Managing a blowout is such a difficult thing to do as a manager in the postseason. You want to keep your hopes alive for the next few games, but you also don’t want to roll over and die. The Dodgers found themselves in that sort of situation on Tuesday afternoon in Game 2 of the NLCS.
The problem that Dodgers fans have with the way things went down is that Dave Roberts’ most costly decision didn’t come in the middle of a blowout. Instead, it came when the team was trailing 3 runs in the 5th inning.
With his pitch count climbing, Tony Gonsolin walked Nick Markakis and allowed a run-scoring double by Cristian Pache. Gonsolin probably should have been pulled there with the top of the order coming to the plate and just 1 out. Instead, the Dodgers manager chose to stick with Tony for Acuna’s at-bat. He walked.
Things Spiral for the Dodgers Bullpen
Then, the Dodgers went to Pedro Baez instead of Adam Kolarek to face the left-handed Freddie Freeman. Freddie punched a single to left-center that scored another run, extending the lead to 4 runs. When asked about the decision, Dave Roberts sounded like he didn’t want to burn an important reliever already down 3 runs.
With 1 out, you don’t want Kolarek to get after Freeman, whether it’s Acuna or whether it’s Ozuna behind him. So you’re put in a tough spot with that 3-batter rule. And then also, I felt Tony was throwing the baseball really well. He punches Riley and then it wasn’t a good walk to Markakis. He put together and good at-bat and then the walk there, and then there was a groundball double off Pache’s bat. So when it’s 3-0 right there to think about bringing in one of your highest leveraged relievers in a 3-run deficit it just doesn’t make sense.
On one hand, you have to understand that the Dodgers are playing the long game. This could potentially end up being a 7-game series and you don’t want to necessarily risk burning everyone out so early. But the fact that Los Angeles would come back to put 7 runs on the board really makes Roberts’ decision look terrible in hindsight.
Playing the ‘What If’ Game
If he pulls Gonsolin early, maybe there’s at least 1 run that doesn’t come across. If he goes with Kolarek instead of Baez, maybe Freeman doesn’t push across a run. Unfortunately, what’s done is done. The Dodgers will have to move forward and get the job done in Game 3.