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A Quick Talk About The Dodger’s Game Management in Tuesday’s Loss

On Tuesday night the Dbacks played spoiler and dealt the Dodgers a major blow to their playoff hopes by knocking them off in a crushing 4-3 loss that evened up their three game series. The Dodger’s NL West lead is now down to just a half game over Colorado after the Rockies beat down the Phillies again. With the two teams tied in the loss column means they’re essentially tied for first place with just five days remaining in the regular season. The Dodgers have four games left and the Rockies have five. Remember losses can’t be made up but wins can. It’s very likely that the Dodgers could find themselves in second place when they fly to San Francisco after Wednesday’s game.

I’m obviously frustrated, like many of you are. Since I’m infuriated by the outcome of what was a must win game for the Dodgers on Tuesday evening, I’m going to do the one thing I can do to alleviate my frustrations. I’m taking to the internet to talk about it. I would like to take a few minutes to discuss the Dodger’s game management because I’m shocked at how poor it was on Tuesday night.

Look I know the bats didn’t deliver much. They did score three runs, but the inability of the offense to hit with runners in scoring position and move runners over is probably what really lost them the game. That’s a discussion for another day since I’m not going to talk about that. Instead I’m going to talk about the strategies that cost the Dodgers the game because I don’t believe management put the team in a position to win on Tuesday.

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I like Dave Roberts and I generally support him. Normally I can defend most of the moves he makes in games, but last night I just can’t. So let’s talk about a couple of things that sunk the Dodgers and could possibly cost them a division title this season.

The first move that I hated was the decision to pinch-run for Yasmani Grandal in the top of the seventh. The Dodgers pulled Grandal after he had just tripled inserting pinch-runner Tim Locastro at third base. Let me explain why I don’t like this. First of all, the decision to remove Grandal from the game means you seriously downgrade that spot in the lineup. With Grandal out you have to go to Austin Barnes for the rest of the game and Barnes is one of the worst hitters in baseball. What if the game goes extra innings? You’re going to need Grandal’s bat, and Barnes is such a huge downgrade there. Secondly the marginal upgrade on the bases with Locastro is null and void. With Grandal at third, he’s going to score on a base hit anyways. So why even bother? It’s not like Locastro is Rickey Henderson. So why make the move?

I’ll tell you why. Roberts did it in case Enrique Hernandez hit a sacrifice fly, or there was a wild pitch. Yes in those scenarios Locastro scores easier than Grandal does. The problem is that those are low percentage odds. It’s unlikely there is going to be a wild pitch or sacrifice fly. Hernandez ended up singling and Grandal would have trotted home anyways. You lost Grandal and then later had to pinch-hit for Barnes. That ended up with career minor leaguer Rocky Gale behind the plate in the bottom of the ninth. A certain recipe for failure.

My second gripe is the bullpen management. The Dodgers are a club that constantly relies on matchups. They’re constantly playing matchups late in games. That’s really their only strategy. I have always had a big problem with that. I know most other teams do the same thing but that doesn’t make the strategy any less brainless. It’s guess work.

If you look at the situation and how a pitcher is pitching you can make the right call. Or at least make a more educated guess. For instance when Scott Alexander got the first out of the bottom of the seventh, there was no reason to take him out. I don’t care about lefty/righty stats. Why bring in Dylan Floro to begin with when there is one out and the bases empty? Even if you do bring in Floro or anyone else, at least don’t leave him in to keep giving up hits when he’s not getting anyone out in a crucial game. The result was Floro giving up three hits in the frame and the Dodgers eventually losing in excruciating fashion.

Matchups, guesswork and pulling hot bats out of the game is a sure fire way to lose the game. Don’t get me wrong. I know the onus is on the players. And I’m just an armchair manager who doesn’t work in baseball and has never played the game. I get it and those are all valid points. The point is to stop doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Stop yanking Grandal out of the game for a marginal upgrade on the bases. Stop playing matchups without looking at the situation or how the current pitcher on the mound is pitching. Baseball is baseball but common sense goes a long way towards better game management.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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Scott Andes
Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

13 thoughts on “A Quick Talk About The Dodger’s Game Management in Tuesday’s Loss

  1. DR has too many players…. too many options. DR is making bad decisions…. more players, means more to play the matchup cards.

    Too late for last minute auditions, too late for rest. 150 games and you do not know who your “Gamers” are. That is sad. Resting players, so they will be fresh for playoffs? They forget that they have to get there first. Tight race which might come down to who wins the division is “in”, and loser is “out”. No time to fiddling around with the lineups, and atrotious pitching changes.

    Dodgers should be managing their top 25, and forget about the extra pawns…. let the late call-ups watch and learn. They have to fine tune their playoff team, and go for a win every night. No looking back. If they had a 15 game lead, then play your call-ups. They should have a 15 game lead, considering all the games they have blown this year.

    A win today would be a reach, and to sweep SF will not happen with this team. AZ and SF would love to squash the Dodgers playoff drive.

    Rocks playing teams who could care less if the win, as long as the Dodgers do not make it.

    All teams seem have a grudge against the Dodgers, mostly out of jealousy. Dodgers took too much for granted.

  2. Well, it is looking like the game on July 24th is going to come back to haunt us BIG TIME.

    What happened on that date? Hmmmm who pitched?

  3. First off, I like Dave Roberts, I always have as a player and a person. I was glad he got the job over Gabe Kapler. I would have preferred it went to Tim Wallach. But Roberts said all the right things and had exactly the attitude towards saber metrics that the FO desired, so he got the job. He has been the manager for close to 3 years. So far he is 83 games over .500. His teams have won 91, 104 and so far 88 games in those 3 years. He has 1 NL pennant on his resume. He got the Dodger job with no real prior managerial experience. So he was from the beginning an unknown commodity. Over his time as manager some of us have become very disillusioned with his constant tinkering with the lineup and the platoons. We have even called for his head, something all fans do when the team is floundering and they feel the guy in charge is the problem. In last years World Series, I seriously questioned his pitching moves. I have done that again this year as sometimes a guy is doing well and Dave for some inexplicable reason pulls him from the game, like he did with Alexander last night. That was not the real problem. The real problem was in a game that meant a lot to the team, he left Floro out there even after he showed he did not have it last night. Time and time again this year Roberts has made some very questionable decisions. And Scott was spot on about pulling Grandal after he hit his triple. He is standing on 3rd! About the only way he was not going to score was on a K, or a weak grounder to the infield, and they had 2 outs to play with. The other thing is using Maeda as a lock down guy. Maeda has been bitten by the HR ball this year. He is not a true reliever. He does well out there, but with the game on the line like that I want someone out there who throws bullets. Actually what I prefer is someone who gets outs. Pat Venditte would have been perfect. He has allowed 1 HR this year in 13 innings, and he can pitch from either side. His breaking stuff would have played better against Escobar. But this one was not all on DR either. The inconsistent offense struck again, and it is maddening. I have never seen a team sit there and take pitches that are right down the middle and then swing at stuff they could not hit with a 20 ft long 2×4. If they do lose the division, it will be because of all the games they lost that they should have won. I tried to find the team stat for runners left on base. It has to be astronomical. Their BA with runners in scoring position is still bad. And at this rate, they need to win the next 4 because the Rocks are on a roll. DC is playing better than Philly is, but the Phils need to show a little pride out there too. They have been out of the game by the 2nd inning both nights.

  4. All that being said, I fully expect the front office to offer Dave a new contract. If I am right, and I think I am, next year is the final year of Friedman’s deal also. Would not bother me in the least if they fired his butt. John Gibbons out as Blue Jays manager at the end of the season. GM says they need a new voice.

  5. The bottom line is that no team is going to lay down for anyone. They might play bad, but there is some pride there. And those who are out of the race are playing for pride. The Dodgers problem is that no team fears them this year. They look up and down the lineup and what they see is a team that is inconsistent and strikes out a lot. Yeah, they hit a lot of homers, most of them solo shots, but they rarely mount sustained rally’s and their batting average with men in scoring position is one of the worst. Their bullpen has few holes and when they are good, they are very good, but they can also implode. Because of all of this the Dodgers seem very vulnerable to the other teams. Now, the pressure is on the Dodgers. They need to win every game. And they know it. If they do not make the playoffs, the season will be considered a failure, and as everyone knows, FAZ does not like to look bad.

  6. Interesting read on yahoo sports about this years free agent crop. There are going to be at least 50 free agent pitchers. One thing I did not know is that David Freese contract has a mutual option in it. So either side can pick it up. I would love to see Freese in Dodger blue next season. Todays starting lineup same as last night

  7. Michael,

    If the Dodgers do not make a respectable run for the Pennant, I am sure head’s will roll. I like Dave Roberts too, and he has done a great job, even though Friedman and Farhad were pulling his strings. So much lies on his repore with the players. He is approachable, and, I think, earned the respect of his players. Sad that he may end up the fall guy for FO ignorance.

    Would not be sad, if Friedman and Farhad were sent packing.

    You think they should try to re-sign Colletti before he packs for SF?

    I think we need a new bullpen coach. Although the Dodgers have abused the bullpen, he still has to take most of the blame for the failures, as he is responsible to get them ready to fire the rock. Sometimes it seeems the relievers are not totally prepared to enter the game.

  8. Question for Michael Norris:
    Given you can see the Rockies play much more than us, do they deserve to win the division?

    Have they made the same kind of ridiculous mistakes as the Dodgers have to lose games: Kenley not covering home, Kemp turning toward second base when he was safe at 1B and tagged out, Kiké thrown out at 2B when he rounded the base too far, giving up a three run homer in the bottom of the 9th in Colorado (with two outs I believe).

    Have they played awful, lackadaisical baseball like the Dodgers have this season. Just curious. Thanks

    1. Every team makes those kinds of mistakes over the course of a 162 game schedule. Do the Rockies deserve to win? If they play well, yes. The Rockies are as hot as can be right now, and the Phillies have basically rolled over and played dead. They are getting creamed again tonight, and Ross Stripling is not pitching well at all. He has given up a 2 run lead. Roberts again letting his pitcher get knocked around and not managing like it is game 7 of the world series. This is a must win game for the Dodgers. Stripling does not even make it out of the 2nd inning. I do not think, especially the way he has pitched, that he is over his back troubles. He does not even look like the same pitcher.

  9. Two Dodgers⁠ ⁠ years, stats with RISP
    .248 BA, .750 OPS, 525 runs scored
    .247 BA, .789 OPS, 537 runs scored

    One is 2017. One is 2018

    1. Difference is last year, they hit a lot better in the clutch. And they had a bunch of walk off wins. They also ran away from the rest of the division. They had a 22 game lead at one point. This year they do not have that margin for error.

  10. if they keep leaving men on base ..that means he need to shake up the line ..those who are suppose to be in the 1-2-3 line up must be moved to a different spot not working so do something different …we are getting tons of people on base it just dont add up…

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