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.
"I'll take my chances any day on Clayton and it just didn't work out right there."
Dave Roberts discusses his thought process on the late-game bullpen decisions in tonight's #Dodgers defeat vs. Washington. pic.twitter.com/33qivOcCLO
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) October 10, 2019
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.