After only managing to push one run across in Thursday’s loss to the Phillies, the Dodgers were able to manufacture 4 through the first 6 against the Mets. That should have been enough for a bullpen that has been lights out over the past couple of games, yet that lead all but evaporated in the bottom of the 7th.
Brusdar Graterol came in to start the inning and punched out the first two batters he faced, thanks to some new changes. However, he then surrendered a two-out double to Michael Conforto. Even though he had only thrown 9 pitches in the inning and struck out two, Dave Roberts had seen enough. He called on rookie southpaw Justin Bruihl to finish up, but that’s where things went south. Bruihl surrendered three runs before being pulled in favor of Blake Treinen. Treinen was able to get out of the inning, but not before a passed ball allowed the Mets to tie the game at 4 apiece.
The 7th inning was just the latest case of Dave Roberts trying to over-manage in situations that don’t call for it.
Why did he have to pull Graterol?
Why not let him try to get out of the inning with a 4-run lead? Well of course Doc liked the match up with Bruihl and mentioned that Graterol had pitched for 3 of the last 4 days.
“Looking at the next three of four hitters, they were left handed. This was three of four for Brusdar. We haven’t done that very often to him so for him to pitch today, it was a conversation. For him to face the two hitters, the double from Conforto – Justin [Bruihl] has been very good for us, so to give him two cracks to get through that inning to get the ball to the 8th and not push Brusdar I felt was the best chance to get through that inning.”
He also mentioned that he would make the same decision again if he had to. Granted, both hits allowed by Bruihl were weak fly balls, it still doesn’t excuse Doc from relying too much on the matchup game. He favored seeing a southpaw against left-handed hitter Dominic Smith. Yet, Smith has hit .343 against lefties this season compared to .222 against righties. Despite Graterol being used 3 times in the last 4 days, why not ride the hot hand?
Going with who’s hot rather than analytics has proven to work in many cases. Just look back to last year’s World Series where Roberts stuck with Julio Urías to finish the game. He didn’t rely on analytics or matchups, rather he went with the guy who had it all working for him. Plenty of other managers have done the same across the league. Yes, this isn’t the postseason, which was the case with Julio, but the Dodgers need to treat every game moving forward as if their lives depend on it. They can’t afford many more slip ups if they hope to defend their crown.
This time they were able to come out with a win and finally win in extras. However, Roberts needs to throw out the rule book and throw out analytics. Let’s get back to good ol’ baseball and riding the players who are hot at that given time. Go with the gut feeling instead of what looks good on paper because that hasn’t seemed to work when it counts.