Dodgers: How Did We Get Here?
By Sully Engels
The easiest scapegoat for the team’s recent slide has been Dave Roberts, and it amazes me how quickly fans forget what times were like when Don Mattingly was the skipper.
Roberts’ record as the manager of the ball club is 183-119, a .606 winning percentage in Los Angeles. Yet, his tinkering with the lineup and sometimes quick pitching changes still get Dodgers’ fans undies in a bunch.
Managers will almost always be thrown under the bus first when there is no exact reason why a team is playing bad, so this isn’t unusual. But Roberts’ role as the manager in this organization is probably pretty far from what many expect, not that it matters to him. With the multi-faceted front office, there is certainly input on what the lineup should be from those above the second year manager.
To add to that, this front office is always active, moving players up and down and to and from the 10-day DL. I like the way they handle business, but it also makes Roberts’ job harder, and that should be taken into account. He knows this and controls the controllable, meaning he doesn’t stress the things that are out of his hands.
The Dodgers have used 90 different lineups this season, and the most common one has only been used ten times.
A lot of the lineup shuffle has come over the last few weeks, as the Dodgers have essentially gone into tryout mode for the players trying to make a playoff roster and allowing their stars to get healthy.
Roberts simply is not the guy to blame. He may have made a switch or two that cost them a game, but he has been working with less recently. And when he’s had more, he’s done nothing but win.
If there is one criticism that may be fair, Roberts might be too loyal to the players who have gotten him to this point, with Pedro Baez being the leading example. Baez seemed destined for that eighth inning spot a month ago, but at this stage, he is fighting for his playoff roster life.
The 2016 Manager of the Year can only work with the 25 guys he has every day, so maybe it goes beyond loyalty. Maybe he has seen something in Baez and other guys that average fans haven’t. Either way, being the players’ guy he is, he is pulling hard for the dudes that have been getting it done all year to do the same for the next month and beyond.
It doesn’t always work that way, but I for one have no problem letting him continue to manage the way he has. I can assure you every player in that clubhouse would run through a wall for him and that isn’t something you’re just gifted in his position.
The bottom line is that Roberts hasn’t been the one giving up bombs, making mental errors or not being able to put together good at-bats. The players need to do that and there hasn’t been one guy on the roster who he could have given more opportunities to that would have turned it around.
The Dodgers are lucky to have Dave Roberts and will only continue to benefit from his gentle hand when things really start to heat up.