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Dodgers Dave Roberts Talks Sticking With Kershaw and First Round Exit vs. Nationals in 2019 NLDS

“I’ll take my chances any day with Clayton.”

A dejected Clayton Kershaw in the Dodgers dugout.

Obviously, this is the toughest post I’ve written here; but the show must go on. Following tonight’s elimination of the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the NLDS, Dave Roberts spoke to the media.

Furthermore – and to their credit – the questions you want to know about were asked. To Roberts’ credit, he did his best to stand at the podium and answer them. Let’s break down several of these quotes pertaining to key situations in the game that ended the 2019 Dodgers’ season.

First, the most important quote of the entire interview, Roberts stuck by his decision to go back to Clayton Kershaw in the eighth inning. Now, any one of us can say who we would have went to in that spot. Roberts says he was going with a guy he believes in.

“I’ll take my chances any day on Clayton and it just didn’t work out right there.”

Undeniably, it didn’t work out. In a sequence of events I can’t quite familiarize with any other baseball game I’ve seen in my life, Kershaw allowed back-to-back home runs to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto on two pitches. At that stage, the game was tied.

The Decision to go to Kershaw before Kenta Maeda

Therefore – Roberts was asked why he went to Kershaw before Kenta Maeda – who offered another sterling relief appearance. Within his answer, Roberts seemed to trip over his reasoning a little bit. Remember, you can watch the video above to see his response.

“With Kenta right there, it was one of those; I felt good about Clayton versus Eaton. When you got Rendon and Soto…. I like Clayton. He threw I don’t know what it was, a couple of pitches, and we had him ready for whatever today. The success Clayton has had against Soto with a two-run lead, I’ll take Clayton any day in that situation. I didn’t want to have Kenta go through Soto.”

Without question, you will remember those two home runs for the rest of your life if you watched this game. Honestly, I don’t remember at this moment who hit the home run off Kershaw in game five of the 2017 World Series in Houston. I remember what it felt like, but I can’t remember the player.

Without a doubt, I will remember Rendon and Soto forever.

Dave Roberts Talks about an Early Exit

Right now, it’s another season ended short of the final goal. This goes for you, for me, and for every member of the Dodgers. Here’s how Roberts describes the season ending in the postseason, short of the end goal.

“It’s one of those things you can’t script. We made sure the guys understood how proud I was. How they competed all year long, they didn’t take a day off. You have to give credit to the Nationals and the way they played. Obviously, very disappointed is an understatement. But it’s just one of those things – we got beat – I’m disappointed for everyone.”

Indeed, the Dodgers won a franchise-record amount of regular season games. Then just two in October. It’s hard to believe. I’m not sure what a manager can say at a time like this to make it right – nothing would suffice. Notably, using the word disappointment to end his quote was probably the right wording.

Roberts decision to give Joe Kelly a second inning

Joe Kelly entered the 10th for a second inning of work and promptly allowed a walk, followed by a Rendon double.

First, the manager was asked why he went to Kelly for a second inning. Then, he was asked to explain why he didn’t use the closer he claimed to have so much confidence in within a high-leverage spot.

“Obviously Kelly, you’re looking at a tie ballgame. he throws 10 pitches and throws the ball really well. he was arguably our most rested reliever and the way he was throwing the baseball. We don’t have a lot of guys behind Kenley. I liked Joe there, 10 pitches and no stress; ball coming out really well. As far as second and third no one out in a tie game. You can go to Kolarek, infield will be in and hope for a punch. But I wanted to try to use Kenley for Zimmerman and get a groundball there with Kelly.”

Finally, that answer is where I feel like Roberts had trouble explaining the things he did; rather than just saying he did the wrong thing. As we know, Kelly allowed a grand slam to Howie Kendrick that was the unofficial ending of another season.

This is a news piece, not opinion. Right now, the news is that as long as Dave Roberts is ending a season answering these type of questions over these type of decisions; people will wonder if he is the right man for the job.

Written by Clint Evans

Clint lives in Ohio, and played collegiate baseball. He loves the Dodgers due to his first memories of Chavez Ravine when he was nine years old. The voice of Vin Scully has been a staple in his life since he was a kid. No amount of baseball talk is ever enough, and he wishes the regular season was year round. He has written about baseball online since 2007.

22 Comments

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  1. This organization is run the wrong way they will never win it all this way. The sad part is nothing will change and so I’m done. I can’t support corruption and incompetence

  2. Rendon hits a low pitch out of the strike zone over the fence? And a shell shocked Kershaw then throws a strike which gets hit out too? But if Rendon flied out and Kershaw got out of the inning he probably would have pitched the whole rest of the game and we’d all say it went well, but it didn’t. If you want to put blame put it on Kershaw, or juiced balls but not Roberts. Sure I would have kept Maeda in but once Kershaw got the K to get out of the 7th you send him back out in the 8th. So I’m tempted to say you should send YOUR resume to whoever, but I know none of us feels good about losing and you need someone to blame, I want to blame Kershaw but that pitch to Rendon was a good pitch. Maybe we need to score more thsn 3 runs? And score something after the 2nd inning? I don’t hear anyone saying we should trade Belli, Seager and Pollock, or are you keeping that for tomorrows rant!

    • Oh hell no, you can kick Pollock and Kelly to the door. The team should have been able to add to a 3-0 lead, but common sense tells you that it takes Kershaw time to get settled in. They needed immediate help and Maeda could def go another inning. Inexplicable decisions and still waiting after 31 years…

    • Correct. The slider Kershaw threw to Rendon was a good pitch down low. But Gary Sheffield’s comment at TBS postgame put it best: “When Kershaw’s throwing 90, 91 mph to the best two hitters (Rendon and Soto) on the Nationals, he’s gonna get hit no matter what.” There was no velocity on the slider, it was clocked at 88 when Rendon hit it out. While Maeda’s slider was clocked at 93 – 94.

      I have no sympathy for Kershaw, because he knew he wasn’t the same, Dave Roberts knew there was something wrong with Kershaw that was why he started Buehler Game 1. Kershaw knew he’s not right, he should not have gone out there and put his team in jeopardy. It’s common sense. When you’re sick, stay home, don’t go to work. When you’re body’s not right, don’t play, it will only cost your team a big L.

      As for Bellinger & Seager, they both need to be traded. Bellinger will never be a clutch player, period. When he post that photo on IG of him bringing a computer monitor to the All Star Game so he can play Fortnite, you knew his season was done. To Bellinger playing video games is more important than playing baseball. That’s a lousy professoinal attitude. When Bellinger was playing the Diamondbacks in AZ, he went to Target to buy a Playstation so he can play on the road. This just goes to show how immature Bellinger is.

      Seager? This dude just choked under pressure. He’s not a young guy anymore, he’ll be 26 next year, that means he’s not going to get much better than he is now. Trade Seager now to any team that needs a shortshop for a starting pitcher , and there are plenty of teams that will be interested.

      As for Pollock – DFA, don’t even think twice about it.

    • If I told you before the game the Dodgers would score 3 runs against Strasburg in 6 innings, I am sure every Dodgers fan would take it. This is the playoff sometimes you just have a handful of runs to work with. You have Maeda and you have Kolarek the Soto killer. And why Kelly had to pitch 2 innings? What are you saving Jensen in the 9th and extra innings while you are the home team?

    • “Maybe we need to score more thsn 3 runs?” Thanks. Where was belli aND Seager this series? Those two guys are garbage postseason players. Both of them. Horrible. I don’t care if belli wins the triple crown next year. He’ll be trash when it matters most: the playoffs.

  3. Had Kershaw not had KERSHAW on his back, he never would have come in. Roberts will not win with bad decision making like that. 2017….2018……2019…..????
    2017 hurt, a lot.
    2018 was painful with no contact.
    2019 was no surprise.
    Things to work on for 2020: CONTACT HITTING and OPPOSITE FIELD HITTING.
    Best Dodger record ever and most HR mean zero.
    We need to remove the names off the backs of the jerseys.

  4. HOW DO U BRING HIM BACK OUT IN THE 8th TO FACE THE HEART OF THE ORDER GIVEN HIS LACK OF SUCCESS IN THE POST SEASON. IT WAS A DUMB MOVE BY A MANAGER WHO DOESNT HAVE A CLUE. YOU GOT TRUE RELIEVERS IN THE PEN FOR THE 8TH N U USE THIS GUY???? WHAT A JOKE. MY MOVES WERE TO PINCH HIT FOR SEAGER IN THE 7TH. HE ALREADY STRUCK OUT TWICE WITH GUYS IN SCORING POSITIONS. AND HES BEEN SWING AT PITCHES OUTTA THE ZONE FOR ALL 5 GAMES. TAYLOR FOR SEAGER IN THAT SPOT. THEM KENTA IN THE 8TH TO FACE RENDON. THEN ADAM KOLOREK TO GET SOTO. THEN JANSEN ON FOR THE FINAL 4 OUTS. THATS IT. ROBERTS WAS WORRIED MORE ABOUT STROKING KERSHAWS EGO THAN WINNING THE DAMM GAME. HORRIBLE COACHING. FIRE HIM TODAY N GO GET GIRRADI.

  5. ANYBODY THINK THAT BELLI IS MVP MATERIAL NOW ??? LOL. HES A BIG CHOKE IN OCT. A MVP DOESNT HIT 180 IN THE POST SEASON. HE LOOKED CLUELESS THE WHOLE SERIES. SWINGING AT PITCHES OUTTA THE ZONE OVER N OVER. RENDON SHOWED WHY HES THE REAL MVP. TWO CLUTCH HITS WHEN THE MONEY WAS ON THE TABLE. AND LOOK AT RENDONS STATS. MORE RBIS. HIGHER AVG. A FEW LESS HRS. AND HES ON A TEAM FAR LESS TALENTED THAN THE DODGERS.

  6. IM AMAZED AT THE LACK OF BUNTING THAT DOESNT GO ON IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE. WE DONT HAVE THE DH N YET NOBODY UTILIZES THE BUNT TO MOVE GUYS OVER. THAT USE TO BE A STRATEGY FOR BRINGING RUNS IN. BUT TODAY ITS JUST SWING AS HARD AS U CAN AT A JUICED UP BALL N USUALLY MISS MORE THAN HALF THE TIME. THE NEXT DODGER MANAGER BETTER START TO USE HIS HEAD N TEACH GUYS HOW TO BUNT IN SPRING TRAINING. WHEN I WAS A KID U LEARNED THAT STUFF IN LITTLE LEAGUE. TODAY ALL THESE GUYS HAVE TOO BIG OF EGOS TO LAY DOWN A BUNT. SAD. THE GAME IS NO LONGER CHESS. ITS BECOME SUPER MARIO.

  7. ROBERTS DESERVES TO GO. WITH THE TEAM WE HAD OVER THE LAST 3 YEARS ANYONE OF US COULD HAVE TAKEN THIS CLUB TO THE POST SEASON N MAY HAVE WON IT ALL NO LESS. HE IS A TERRIBLE LEADER OF THIS CLUB N MAKES VERY QUESTIONABLE CALLS. KERSHAW HAD NO BUSINESS BEING IN THE GAME IN THE 8TH INNING. POINT BLANK. WHY DOESNT SOMEONE JUST SAY IT ALREADY. KERSHAW IS A MERE SHELL OF HIMSELF. HIS FASTBALL IS ANYTHING BUT THAT. AND HIS SLIDER HANGS LIKE A CHANDELIER. FACE IT ALREADY N GET ON WITH UR LIFE

  8. Roberts’ disingenuous “It’s ok if the blame falls on me” speech doesn’t diminish the fact that he has trouble making the right decisions in the postseason. Where guys like Bochy and LaRussa flourished, Roberts continues to vapor lock and make poor decisions under stress. It’s one thing coming up with the right pitching matchup against the Rockies or Marlins in July. It’s a totally different thing doing in it the spotlight of the playoffs and World Series. How can anyone dispute he consistently makes bad decisions under pressure?

  9. A sad outcome after an amazing season but it proves that winning 100+ games means nothing unless you can deliver in October. The Dodgers didn’t do it, again. As is always the case, there is a lot of blame to go around. That includes the front office as well as the clubhouse. So what’s next?

  10. The loss last night was epic but typical………..this Dodger team was special but doomed…..Dave Roberts does not seem to know his own players strengths, tendencies and weaknesses and it showed up again last night…..we were in a situation yet again where his management of the bullpen pieces was critical and Dave fell back on his same bad habits……..I can understand why he did not want to use Kenley and I agree with it……….but Roberts new habit of turning to Kelly as the answer was his (Roberts) achilles this season and it showed up again last nite……..as for Kershaw, ask any of us who really follow this team night and night out. This seasons version of Kershaw, his weakness to get the first six outs/his early innings performance was a constant problem………he gives up home runs like a sieve trying to get the first six/nine outs in a lot of his appearances, then he settles in and dominates like the old Kershaw……..you cannot ask this version of Kershaw to pitch in relief in close game situations. Had I been managing this game last night, I would have gone Maeda for six/seven outs minimum after taking Buehler out, then turned to Dustin May or Julio Urias for the ninth………then pray……..I never would have used Kelly at all…..but our bullpen has been our major weakness all season long. I cannot count how many games Buehler pitched well and then the bullpen gave it up. I thought our bullpen versus their bullpen was our advantage in this series. But Martinez did a good job limiting his real bullpens usage by rotating his starters as his bullpen for the most part, thus negating our advantage. Smart manager, he knew where his weakness was and minimized it. My congrats to the Nats and ex-Dodger Kendrick.

    • Hopefully in a 7 game series he can’t limit his ridiculous weaknesses which is a bullpen ERA of 5. If he wants to ride 2 pitchers it’ll blow up in his face either next series or the World Series

  11. This was one of the most illogical moves to make during a post-season elimination game. During the 8th inning, instead of going with (the warmed up and ready) Maeda and our “Soto specialist”, Roberts thought it made more sense to have Kershaw face Rendon and Soto? Kershaw got his 7th inning “appearance” and ended that inning with a 3 pitch out. That should have been enough….but no. With 2 pitches, Kershaw ruined Buehler’s 3 to 1 lead and our chance to move on. Although I primarily blame poor management for bull pen selection (and in the last inning randomly putting Pollack in to strike out yet again), the fact of the matter is that there was missed opportunities by offense as well. Thank you Buehler, Hernandez, Muncy and Maeda for showing up. If I’ve forgotten someone…..oh yes, Joc for the almost home run double that scored on Muncy hit….my apology.

  12. Keyshaw for the one batter was ok. But when I seen him come out for the next inning…..I immediately said OH NO and I knew most fans were saying the same thing. Then comes Kelley which again was great for one inning……….but again why two….. this is game five and you got a lot of horses to go with. Then he walks the first batter and you say……take him out but Roberts stays with him??…… I REALLY FEEL ROBERTS LOST THIS GAME. BUT THEN AGAIN. why were our BIG stars NOT HITTING. BELLINGER and SEAGER and TURNER?? BELLINGER MOST VALUABLE PLAYER……..hell no. He totally disappeared WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT

  13. Come next year, I will cheer and welcome Kershaw when he pitches. He is still a Dodger I like. It’s a game. A few days have passed and life goes on. Spring Training is a short time away. Yay!
    War is looming in the Middle East. How blessed we are to have a life where losing a baseball game is our drama.

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