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Dodgers Win But Dave Roberts Not Entirely Happy With the Approach

There were things to love and some things to…not love.



The Dodgers and Rangers went at it again on Sunday afternoon with each team looking to take a series win. With the last 2 games garnering 12 runs for the winning team each time, Sunday looked to be a very important game for both sides. 

The Dodgers had Walker Buehler on the mound and he went 6 scoreless innings despite a very long first inning. Buehler struck out 5 and issued 3 walks while allowing 5 hits. Mookie Betts went deep for Los Angeles and Zach McKinstry came up with a big hit in the 3rd to drive in 2. 

Despite all of that, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts didn’t sound entirely satisfied with the win. Doc spoke with the media after the game and said that he really didn’t feel like they had played a very good baseball game. He also added that he was happy with the win, obviously. 

Roberts would not elaborate on what he felt was not done well in the Dodgers loss. But they did leave 7 runners on base and go 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position. He could be talking about that or he could be referring to the bullpen issue in the 9th inning. 

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Phil Bickford came out in the 9th inning and did not do particularly well. With a 5-run lead, he 4 straight runners to reach prompting the Dodgers to go to Kenley Jansen. But Roberts did say that he didn’t put much blame on Bickford in that spot. 

But the good news is that the Dodgers walked away with the win. 

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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  1. How about Friedman’s approach on constructing a bullpen. Stop picking up failures unless you want the better relievers to be flamed out by October. If guys like Jansen have to come in on games where they never should’ve even had to warm up, we’ll see the effects of that later

    • Well Don, it also could mean that Dodgers don’t play in October anyway as a result. And as Lasorda often said: pennants and championships are usually won or lost in the BP..

      • Hey DR, Gonzalez and Trienen are both capable of closing games. But you had them pitch in the 7th and 8th innings instead. And you bring in Bickford to close? Bring in guys to close in the 9th who can actually close games. Jansen is another issue. He’s like a Forrest Gump box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. Buehler wasn’t sharp. He walked 3 in the first inning and got out of it. He threw 6 shutout innings with less than stellar stuff. It was a gutty job. Gonzalez and Trienen each put in solid innings. But the ninth inning made a win feel like a loss. Do not bring in pitchers in the 9th inning, even with a 5 run lead, who have no business closing games.

  2. The next few days will be interesting. The Dodgers will play a series against the hot and solid Phillies, while the Giants and Padres will play the two NL West doormats (DBacks, and Rockies). This would be a really good time for the Dodgers to play their A game. Hopefully DR understands this.

  3. Anybody with any common baseball sense, can not understand Roberts approach to his so called managing. Terrible lineups, with no thought to them. Just randomly putting pitchers from bullpen in situations they shouldn’t be in. No emotion in dugout, just blank looking stares.

    • Hot hitter of late Justin Turner , conspicuous by his absence
      Is he injured ? No, just resting?
      How many consecutive games would Gehrig and Ripken
      Or even Garvey, have played under Robert’s?
      How many times has he sat a hot hitter?
      Or batted a cold hitter in the Four spot
      His (mis) handling of the bullpen is habitual
      Is this because he’s doesn’t have a pitching coach. He does? Have you ever seen a pitching staff with less ability to hold runners on?

      • Doc rests all of his starters from time to time, especially those north of 30. Pay attention!
        Baseball has changed from Gehrig and Ripken days, and its not coming back. doc has won 1 of 3 world series he’s been to with the club, including the one the astros stole by cheating. so he’s won 2 out of 3 and no shame losing to the great bosox team that year

  4. Two things: the only significant things done wrong yesterday were Doc using his bullpen backwards for no good reason and the offense stranding a bunch of guys on base. Other than that there isn’t much to complain about.
    Pitching and hitting are fine arts, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a team do those things well every time out.

    There’s not much doubt that we will be seeking bullpen support at the trade deadline. Have to wonder about DFA’ing Santana although I think it’s legal to pull him off waivers if claimed. Baur’s current trend and the Muncy/Bellinger injuries are what we should be concerned about these days.

    • He didn’t use the bullpen backwards. He was going to close with Treinen, Gonzalez and Jansen, when they increased their lead to 5 runs, of course you don’t bring in your closer, you save him for the next game [unless the game resorts to a save situation, which it did]. Totally normal decision that any knowledgeable fan would understand. Not his fault that surfer dude couldn’t get anybody out. He brought in Jansen, and they won the game. I don’t agree with every decision Roberts makes, but he knows 100X more than me or any other of these comment board critics. The guy manages the best record in baseball almost every year, and 10-3 in post-season series the last 4 years.

  5. Nate Jones & Phil Bickford seem
    to be ‘fastball only’ oriented hurlers.
    As stated above, they don’t belong in
    high leverage situations. & while Roberts
    several times felt safe with leads entrusting them
    (VERSIA included here) he’s been close to paying for
    it dearly. The strategy seems sound- rest your high leverage
    guys but let’s be honest- these guys can’t be relied on anytime!

    • Bickford had previously only been used for RHH but DR put him in for some lefties.

      LHH Brock Holt doubled.

      SH Jonah Hiem (hitting leftie) walked

      LHH Jason Martin (PH in pitcher’s spot) singled in a run.

      RHH Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled in a hit & run play.

      Clearly, Bickford should not be used for lefties.

      Nate Jones came to LA with an issue with walks. He walked no batters until Saturday as a Dodger, but has really struggled with the long ball. 6 of the 8 ER he has given up have come on home runs. While some have said he shouldn’t be used in HL situations, that just isn’t going to happen, because the Dodgers got him for that purpose, and he has faired well for the most part, despite recent struggles. I personally don’t think the Dodgers should give up on him just yet, but he is out of options and thus probably will lose his roster spot at some point.

      While Bickford should not have been in against lefties, this isn’t all Dave Roberts’ fault. It is a good strategy to rest high leverage relievers in 5 run games. Jansen has been dominant as closer, although the Dodgers could use a backup closer if the price isn’t too expensive. Gonzalez, and Treinen have been great as setup men. Nelson and Price can pitch the middle innings. What we really need is people who can pitch in medium leverage without turning it into a high leverage situation and have us call on the above relievers. Kelly and Santana are huge busts, Uceta and White have shown flashes but have not been fully trustworthy, Bickford is only a righty specialist, and Jones has struggled lately.

  6. Approach? Was he talking about stranding runners on and swinging for the fences to impress, Z. Mck. getting picked off second and running around like a little leaguer, or mop up guys who can’t finish? Well, yeah. Jones, Bickford, Vesia…..you can’t rely only on a fastball w/ no movement to get major leaguers out, even if can throw 100+ mph. You got to have something to offset the hitters timing. Even Chapman is working on it, Kimbrel seems to got it.

    • ok that’s more like it. doc is right – we can win games ugly, and lose some pretty. it all offsets after a long season. doc and the coaches will let the team know what he didn’t like about their play yesterday!

  7. Neither Bickford nor Jones should be more than the “last arm in the bullpen”. You certainly can’t have two “last arms”.

    The issue is much more about bullpen construction than about how Doc uses the resources he has. Who do you really trust? Treinen and Gonzales for me. How do you manage that pen? You can blame bad luck with injuries, but I don’t buy it. Graterol, who was expected to be an effective high-leverage guy, only ended up in LA because Boston rejected him in the 3-way Betts deal because of concerns about his arm. Knebel, who looked like a great option for a minute or two, is a year off Tommy John. I’m not saying his lat is related to TJ, but he was not someone we should have expected to be rock solid.

    Friedman has de-emphasized bullpen spending year after year. And I get it. Hard to predict how guys perform, and big money free agents often are busts [Joe Kelly, anyone?]. He’s emphasized quantity over quality, and guys with plenty of minor league options, to run out what seems to effectively be a ten-man pen most seasons. And that has worked, mostly. Lots of Ws. NL West dominance. Many trips to the World Series. But the pen has failed quite often in the biggest moments, and, for example, caused Doc to maybe leave Kershaw in games too long, or even use him as a reliever, because he couldn’t count on his pen. The lone WS win was accomplished with Julio Ureas as the key bullpen arm. Does anyone think we win last year with Kenley closing? And that may be related to Covid and his general health issues, but he’s been showing signs of not deserving his role since the Astros beat him up. Yet he remains our closer.

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