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Dodgers: Dave Roberts Takes Blame for a Critical Bullpen Decision with Baez



Look, all the finger pointing and frustration and honest shock from last night’s Dodgers loss will likely be focused on Kenley Jansen and the 9th inning. That was the ugliest inning by this team in a long time, but while officially on paper the game was lost there, the real change point happened earlier in the night.

No, not Dave Roberts pulling Julio Urias early, it was the decision to go to reliever Pedro Baez with two runners on in the 6th that truly proved to be the undoing of the Dodgers.

First, notably, Baez has struggled with inherited runners throughout his career. Most recently, all 6 runners he’s inherited over the last two postseasons have scored. Not exactly what you would call relief.

Still, the Dodger manager went to Pedro Baez with two on and one out in the 6th

I loved [Blake Treinen] right there. He just wasn’t sharp. Lowe, I loved the matchup. I felt Petey could pick Lowe up right there. He just didn’t execute the pitch. He made a bad pitch.

The Rays took a 5-4 lead and Doc’s reaction should have been enough to consider Baez’s night done from that point…

… but inexplicably, the reliever trotted out to start the 7th inning after the Dodgers regained the lead. And that, Dave admits, was a mistake. But there’s more to it.

I take blame for having him go back out. We were down and I told him he was finished. And so to ask him to go back out [after retaking the lead] and to see how he felt, he said he felt good. But I shouldn’t have said that and kept him burning a bit.

I’ll tell you — and just about anyone that know’s the game will tell you — that does not happen in baseball. Especially at the highest level on the biggest stage.

And now the Dodgers find themselves tied 2-2 in the World Series and feeling down 7 games to none. After a postseason full of mostly clean and near-elite baseball, Los Angeles put together its sloppiest, worst game of October.

Let’s hope everyone has a very short memory.

Up Next

Clayton Kershaw takes the ball for the blue in a game 1 rematch with Tyler Glasnow. First pitch is set for 5:08 PM PT on FOX.

NEXT: Kenley Jansen Doesn’t Have An Answer For Why He Didn’t Backup the Play at the Plate

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

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  1. Now even Dave Roberts knows he sucks as as manager?

    To be fair, despite FO public protestations to the contrary the Dodgers bullpen has been their Achilles Heel all year. Running Jansen out there in the 9th was a huge mistake except for the fact that who else in the pen is a lockdown 9th inning guy? If we’re being honest with ourselves, NOBODY! Even Graterol hasn’t been lights out, but he would have been my 9th inning choice before the game started.

    BTW where the hell was Joe Kelly? They gave him big money to be the “guy.”

    Roberts issue is that he keeps running the same guys out there for the past 4 years Who have a track record of blowing up in big games because he’s too close to them, and he wants desperately for them to succeed.

    Tonite we truly find out if this team has some heart, or they’re soft like everyone outside of LA believes.

    • No they have Graterol and Kelly far better than Jansen. Graterol was misused again and we could habe had Kelly who way over-matches Phillips with his stuff or even Gonzales lefty vs lefty. No it is fair to blame the idiot who calls himself manager.

      • Roberts is in over his head. His decision making is painful. Having roberts and a very suspect bullpen is not a recipe for success.

      • nik, I would not wish Joe Kelly on any team. I spent 5 years living in Boston and JK is a head case I’m sure Dodger management is well aware of now. His performance against the Dodgers in the WS was a fluke.

        • He can get 1 batter though. Anyhow my real choice was lefty Gonzales or would have Buehler throw for an out. Lasorda used Hershiser that way to win a game 4 playoff vs the Mets in 1988.

          • nik, Joe would be required to face the minimum 3 batters. I agree with you on Gonzalez or Buehler.

          • How the hell is Buehler going to pitch when he started in Game 3 the day before? Lasorda using Hershiser in that game vs. Mets was under totally different circumstances. They only had 9 pitchers on the roster, Jay Howell had been suspended and Tim Belcher was starting Game 5 in a few hours. So in reality he had only 7. He had used 6. He was the only pitcher left. Fortunately he had owned Kevin McReynolds.

  2. Ouch! That was a tough Dodgers loss, and I must agree that its not just about Roberts choosing Jansen to close the 9th with a 1 run lead. What we saw was an implosion and a messy conclusion to a game that we definitely should have won. But this is baseball and It happens; it certainly happened to us last night. Although this game was so close and back and forth towards the end, I still did not expect it to end with 2 outs and an under 200 Ray’s player getting the hit that they needed. The error obviously costs us, but the inning was already messy. Time to reset and get locked back in. Tonight, we will definitely need Kershaw to turn in another stellar performance and our Dodgers’ offense to back him up. Glasnow has something to prove; so, we need to be more than ready for him.

    Come on boys, lets do this! GO DODGERS!!!

  3. Terrible decision to bring in Kenley when Graterol had only thrown 7 pitches. The loss is 100% on Dave Roberts.

    • My biggest complaint about Roberts is that he lacked an “all hands on deck” with this game. Wood, Kelly, and Gonzales should all have been warming up simultaneously and observed by Mark so as to report to Roberts which of these guys have the best “stuff” and/or control while warming up.

      • You could also add Gonsolin and May to the other 3 who should have been warming up simultaneously.

  4. Blah, Blah, blah! Same results different years. see ya Dave. If you don’t pull it out, you need to go

    • Clint, you can defer and deflect to the 7th or any other inning that you like. But all that was corrected for by the time they entered the bottom of the 9th with a one run lead. Now Roberts had to make the real decision that he consistently can’t do, that is to leave Jansen on the bench when there is less than a 4 or 5 run lead. Jansen will always give up one run and likely three. But Roberts is so invested in the “I want my players to know that I believe in them at all cost” theory, that he stubbornly won’t do his job and speak honestly to a player to say, “you are no longer this teams closer. I’m sorry but the job description is to hold the lead and ‘close’ out the game.“

      We likely will not see Jansen a third successive game, but look to see him in the sixth and seventh games. As “Dodgerglenn” noted above, “same result, different years.”

      • Robert’s keeps making same mistakes.JANSEN AND BAEZ SUCK SHOULD BE DROPED,WITH BARNES CATCHING JULIO WILL BE TOTAL LIGHTS OUT BUT ROBERTS ONLY WANTS KERSHAW AND BUHLER TO SHINE.JUST LEAVE BARNES BEHIND PLATE SMITH AS DH RIOS IN AT 1ST BENCHED STRIKE OUT MUNCY ON BENCH.KEEP JOC IN KEFT SINCE POLLOCK SUCKS IN POST SEASON NO ADVANTAGE THERE

        • Luis, Good question on Rios. Is he sick? Has he even played or batted in the series?

      • And the definition of insanity is? Keep doing the same thing over & over expecting a different outcome.
        Dave Roberts in a NUTshell. Does Andrew Friedman also need to be included? Is he in Roberts’ ear on these pitching decisions? This is so hard to take! Again!

    • Roberts has been a problem since day one. Being close to the players sounds good, but is total BS. He doesn’t have a clue on managing a bullpen. If the Dodgers lose this series it is strictly on Roberts and he will need to go. Would love to see him fired and replace by Hinch, bit of irony huh.

      • If the Dodgers lose this Series, Roberts has to be fired. First as everyone agrees, he should have never brought in Baez when he did, but then he left him in to start the next inning. Second, you have three left-handed hitters in a row, so why noy bring in a lefty to pitch to them. You had Gonzalez and McGee in the bullpen. And you could have used Graterol again to start the inning. He only threw 7 pitches in the 8th. 3 million Dodger fans can’t give a fart or a fig if Roberts has a good relationship with his players. They want a World Championship. Then talk about how you care about “your guys”
        But look at some other factors:
        1. Jansen didn’t back up home the way he should have on the last play. Maybe he gets the ball and tosses it to Smith who gets the final out and we go to extra innings.
        2. The Dodgers left 10 men on base in scoring position.
        3. Our $300 million dollar man was 0-5, and left men on base in scoring position several times.
        I’m praying Kershaw has a good game tonight – the Dodgers score 1 more run than the Rays tonight, and we win it all in Game 6.

  5. The loss is also on Baez and Jansen and Taylor and Smith – Barnes should have been catching, at least in the ninth.

    Barb is too positive and forgiving. Get realistic and blame the guys who failed!

  6. While watching the game last night, I told my wife as soon as Roberts pulled Urias, “Roberts is going to outsmart himself again!”

    Sure enough, it all unraveled after that.

    And don’t forget: with two outs and a 1-2 count in the 9th, Smith called for a ball high in the strike zone. Jansen through it right down the middle. The Rays batter, who hadn’t had a hit in a month, was swinging low to high. I think Smith saw this and called for high heat. Jansen served up a pumpkin. Jansen’s pitch location has not been consistent in two years now…

    • Once again, Dave Robert’s proves to be the worst in game manager in baseball. If it wasn’t for a stacked lineup he would be useless. Putting Jansen t close when we know he can’t close anymore but to also leave him in when he gives up a hit and a walk is astounding. Bring in Kelly to throw straight gas and strike out Phillips. Dodgers up 3-1 but now who knows what happens

    • I’m with you on bringing Mike in for our manager next year. 3 World Series in 4 years & no trophy ? is what you get with a meddling FO & a “who’s on first” Field Manager. Heck, bring him on tonight. I see fire in the eyes of just about every player with the exception of the one crying about Astro-Turf and the other dude that keeps looking back at the umpire asking him if was really a strike. You got a bat for one reason, hit the ball, make contact, home runs will come but you need to hit the ball for that to happen.

  7. Same old s### show with this team. How can you use Baez andJansen! Horrible decision! They should be gone because they just cost us the series once again. How many times do you have to get burned before you realize this! You’re not going to beat their next 2 aces. What a shame. Thanks Doc?

  8. What a gift. Roberts is Santa Claus! Jansen shouldn’t be our closer any more than Koufax is no longer our ace. Jansen used to scare opposing batters, now it’s just the fans. In his prime, we often relied on Jansen for 5+ outs. We should have done that with Graterol last night. We are on the verge of giving this away to a good but clearly inferior team.

  9. Very disappointing loss. Sloppy pitching is what I would label the cause. Julio did a great job but was victim to his relaxing his focus. I would like to see him slow down the tempo. Be more deliberate and measured.

    Pedro is Pedro and we all know his history with runners on base when relieving. Get over it Pedro, don’t beat yourself up. Use the experience to make yourself a better fit for coming in with RISP.

    My feelings on why we lost is because everyone was “we’ve got this” which caused a total loss of focus on the game. You are the Los Angeles Dodgers, a great organization with a proven history of winning and top notch performance.

    Cody, you really need to speak with your Dad about your lack of “high end” production this year. He knows you and what got you to a well earned ROY & MVP.

    Max, squat, choke & rip. It has been difficult watching you struggle and everyone including you know what you are capable of bringing to the plate every at bat.

    Mr. Roberts, I am not a day later quarterback so nothing from me with this exception, Andrew Friedman is not the Field Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, you are and you know your players better than anyone else. If I am wrong my sincere apologies.

    22 to 15 is tonight’s battery.

    #BleedBlue #WS2020LAD and don’t forget the hand thing when you are rallying ?

  10. Jim, I am pragmatic and will continue to believe that our Dodgers can pull this off until evidence shows me otherwise. (That will occur IF the Rays, which they may, win a 4th game.) Many Dodgers’ fans did not even believe that we were going to get INTO the World Series, especially when we were down 3-1 in the NLCS; I was not one of them. Perhaps, you’ve misconstrued my first sentence, (last night’s loss ” was NOT JUST ABOUT Roberts choosing Jansen to close the 9th with a 1 run lead” ) as forgiving. It is not. Robert’s decision to use Jansen in the 9th was part of, what I refer to as, the team’s implosion.

    If, as fans, our HOPE that we can win this World Series is “unrealistic”, why bother watching?

  11. This loss falls right on Dave Roberts, Jansen is not an elite closer anymore, I doubt he ever was and the man leaves him out there to crumble in the biggest stage, take him off as soon as a runner gets on base, looks like everybody knew that was going to happen.

    • About Jansen not being an elite closer “I doubt he ever was ” That’s the dumbest comment I’ve read in two years. Go back and look at his stats in 2016-17 or earlier.

  12. That 9th inning last night cost this team the WS . Roberts, Jansen and Baez are ALL TO BLSME So my prediction is that 1988 will still be the last WS Dodgers have won, it it may very well be a long long time before Dodgers ever win a WS.

  13. I still feel great about the Dodgers winning this World Series because Dave Roberts already guaranteed it, “THIS IS OUR YEAR! WOOO!”

  14. Boss, I concur totally! If Dodgers end up lossing this WS YET AGAIN, Roberts , Jansen and Baez all need to be dispatched sometime this coming week because IMHO this series will be won by the Rays on Tuesday . It’s just sickening to see Roberts use Jansen in the 9th with just a 1 run lead and he should know by now that KJ just can’t cut it in those situations anymore. And Roberts should take the blame for last night’s meltdown because he HAD TO KNOW that Baez has allowed every inherited runner to score during the past several Octobers. Last nights loss was a civic disgrace as far as I’m concerned.

  15. Of course Roberts blows the pitching. Baez and Jansen. Davey boy should be fired on the spot for those bonehead calls. it’s the world series for christ’s sake! Should have had anyone up maybe even Buehler or Wood to pitch to the lefty Phillips or way back Lowe and Kiermeyer Home runs Managing 101 Lefty vs lefty surely not Baez. And he did the exact thing last season playoffs, after Kersh giving up a HR to Soto he left him in vs Rendon? It’s like Roberts has no clue what to do. How is this guy a manager at all? Should have picked up Madden and fired Davey last season. Roberts is just like Doc Rivers, great for the press and bad for the team especially in playoffs and championship ball. Pathetic!!!

  16. Andrew Friedman should take the fault for the bullpen failure too. Year after year he refused to pay top dollars to get a real reliever instead he continuously went after reclamation projects that kept backfiring: Joe Blanton, Ryan Madsen, Scott Alexander, Tony Watson, Tony Cingrani; list goes on and on.

    Josh Hader was available at the trade deadline the Brewers were interested in making the deal with the Dodgers instead Friedman refused to part with top prospects. Are you kidding me? If Friedman had the balls to pull the trigger to get Hader, it would have been LIGHTS OUT IN THE 9TH, Dodgers would have been up 3-1 now.

  17. Roberts managed teams eventually fail in the post season because his incredibly bad handling of pitching staffs is amplified. Every year. Your players loving you only carries so far.

  18. This loss in Game 4 was in retrospect a truly team loss. You need to tote up the fact that Seager and Turner had 8 of the team’s hits, which were over 1/2 of the team’s 15 hits, and were responsible for most of the runs. You have to note that Betts, who batted in front of them, was never on base; if he as, there could have been big innings. . Bellinger, Pollock and Taylor had chances to drive runs in and never came through with a hit. With 15 hits and some walks they should have scored 10-12 runs, and put the game out of reach. Yes, Roberts bears responsibility for putting and leaving Baez in. But Jansen gave up two softly hit balls, which luckily for the Rays, landed for hits. Wait until tonight!

  19. MrHughes??? Welcome to Dodgers fandom, but aren’t you the same MrHughes who chimed in after the Dodgers NLCS Game 1 loss to deride the fans as being “myopic”, and Bellinger, Betts and Seager as losers? Then said it was going to be the “Braves in 4”. Is that you?

    You sound a bit sarcastic when stating a guarantee from Roberts or possibly you have truly been converted by Bellinger, Betts and Seager’s performances. But more likely, it was the crow you were served and this is actually mocking sarcasm???

    • 2020 NLCS Trophy Presentation:

      Dave Roberts: “Hey guys, this is our year, woo!” … myopic Dodgers fans cheering, celebrating; while the rest of the world watched on with laughter.

      To have a bonehead manager Dumb Roberts calling plays for this so called prestigious Dodgers organization is a disgrace. Every year after losing the post season, same comments on this Dodgers Nation site repeated over and over again, Dumb Roberts must go. Instead the Dodgers front office are just as dumb as the manger they kept. As a result all of you are left watching the same movie over and over again.

      The new name for Dumb Roberts should be “Quint Roberts” – it’s like watching “Jaws”, you kept hoping stupid Quint would not underestimate Jaws instead he makes the same bonehead mistake everytime until he’s eaten by Jaws. That’s your Dodgers manager, learn to live with it Dodgers fans!!!

  20. Overall, the pen has been the heel, once again. How do Turner (sign him to three more years for Gods sake) and Seager combine for 8 hits and you still lose? They scored 7 runs off one of the weakest hitting teams to make the big dance in years. But the problem is also the lack of starter depth. The poor pen is exposed when the starters don’t get out of the fifth inning. Now we are one Kershaw implosion and a bullpen game away from losing. We may not even get to Buehler again. I get that projecting the pen is extremely hard, but how do they mess it up year after year after year?

  21. I count a bunch of mistakes that all conspired to make this one of the most hilarious and disgraceful game endings for my beloved Dodgers. Let’s start with Kike banging Bellinger so bad that Belli, a gold glove candidate at this position, could not play centerfield in this game.

    Second, Taylor’s throw home was offline so Muncy had to grab it and Muncy is by far the worst defensive player on the Dodgers. His relay was way offline, pulling Smith away from the plate. Why he was still in the game remains a sad footnote in history.

    Next let’s just say putting in Jansen as the closer was a mistake that Dave Roberta will think about for a long time as most longtime Dodger fans have known for some time his days as a closer were over—with a 3 to 4 mph decline in his fastball. His pitch btw was right down the middle of the plate.

    Next of course Jansen had a brain freeze and failed to back up the catcher in this play—probably the biggest mistake in this comedy of errors.

    All in all, one of the most embarrassing game endings in Dodger history—and this by one of the best defensive teams in the majors this year. Chastened, the Dodgers will regroup and thank their lucky stars that their next starters will be Kershaw, Buehler, and Urias.

    • Final say…congratulations DODGERS world champs !!! sign who should be signed ..meaning free agents… let ROBERTS go ! He caused enough DRAMA in his PITCHING decisions, don’t blame the front office for his failures his knowledge of the game is at a low , He should be a base coach if anything .As for JANSEN say goodbye ! Thank you for the years ! Much appreciated Mr. Jansen but your days are over leave with dignity and not denial. Let’s go 2021.

  22. I think we’ll see Buehler in game six if we lose tonight. I’ve always been a Roberts fan from the time he played for us and was glad he was hired. However, he did screw the pooch last night with Baez and that’s what cost us the game. That and all of our players involved in that last play.

  23. Really tired of Robert’s poor pitching decisions. He focused on relationships with players instead of winning the world series. Mattingly too while Torre worked to find a pulse.

  24. Baez and Kenley are like the unfaithful lover that keeps cheating on Dave. And Roberts keeps taking them back while the entire family watches the sick and failing relationship. The bad movie over and over and over with the same ending. But dave is such a NICE guy, and everyone loves him….Who else wanted to scream at the T.v.when Baez even entered the game? Then the 2nd inning he kept him in? Then taking out koralek when he was throwing excellent. Then taking out Graterol who wasn’t perfect but was BY FAR a better option than Kenley. Then not noticing Kenley’s velocity was 89? His cutter wasn’t moving. Roberts plainly Sucks and there is nothing else to say…

  25. Well Baez has been allowing inheited runners to score for several Octobers now, not just last night And Roberts truly deserves crucifixion after leaving Baez in to allow not 1 but 2 damaging HRs. Unbelievable and the Jansen 9th inning implosion is nothing new. But remember what I said about the Dodger hitters needing to put ball in play and not strike out in critical late inning situations. And Remember what I said about this pitching staff needing to keep the Rays in the park, and once again were victims of 4 Rays HRs last night for a total of 8 HRs served up through 4 games.

  26. Admitting to the mistake detailed in this article is like pleading guilty to a lesser offense. It’s not that he told Baez he was done and then sent him out; It’s that he sent him back out in the 7th or that he used him at all. With all the information available to him, he didn’t know that all of Baez’s inherited runners in the playoffs score?

    Roberts didn’t think twice about yanking Urias in the 5th after Julio had struck out the previous 2 batters but he stayed with Jansen for the LH hitter with 2 on in 9th when the situation screamed for Gonzalez.

    Roberts owes the team better than this.

  27. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Dave Roberts as a player. Heck, I will go as far as I like him as a manager, but I hate him as the Dodgers’ postseason manager. He has been out managed in the last 4 postseasons. I forgave him for the 2017 World Series (cheating B..tards), but when is he going to learn that you manage the postseason differently. Who is whispering in his ear telling him that he is doing a great job because he definitely isn’t reading on social media or hearing it on TV, radio, or podcasts? If we lose this World Series it will be because of Dave Roberts and by the way, I know Dave will sit there afterwards taking the blame, but that will not heal my broken heart.

  28. So Roberts is in a total state denial. Let me clarify it:

    HEY DAVE. YOU THREW AWAY GAME 4 BY BRINGING JANSEN IN WITH A ONE RUN LEAD IN THE NINTH.

    Is that clear enough? Now the Dodgers have to win 5 games to get a world series championship. They have have lost one game to the Rays, and one game to Dave Roberts. But I’m counting game 4 as a win by the Dodgers, and a loss solely on Dave Roberts. His denial of Jansen’s diminished skills is borderline psychotic.

  29. the author quotes roberts…..”They’re both great choices……..they’re both unbelievable guys in high-leverage.” really? anybody that has eyes can see kenley is lobbing up center/center softballs. i can’t blame jansen as roberts is the fool putting him as a high leverage closer in the world series.

  30. Where is Walter Alston when we need him? Deceased. Davey, Davey Roberts dud not invent baseball although you wouldn’t know it. If big blue wins, it will be due to merit , not managerial incompetence. Walter Alston let them play, good or bad.

    • Walter Alston. Man, haven’t heard that name for years. I liked him. A hard man but excellent tactician.

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