The Dodgers clearly made the right choice when they decided to hire Dave Roberts after the firing of Don Mattingly. While Roberts has been a great hire, there are areas he can improve on for 2018.
In the first few seasons under manager Dave Roberts, the Dodgers have gotten further into the playoffs each year. This year was no different as the Dodgers went as far as you can possibly go without winning the World Series. In order for that trend to continue in 2018, the Dodgers need to win the World Series. Here are Dave Robert’s new year’s resolutions in order to lead the Dodgers to their first championship since 1988.
Trust the starting pitchers more
In the playoffs and especially in the World Series, Dave Roberts had a quick hook and seemed to pull his starting pitchers too early in games. Rich Hill had a rough start in game two of the World Series but ended up pitching effectively wild and was getting stronger as the game progressed. Roberts needs to give his starters a longer leash and not be so trigger happy when it comes to calling in relievers. If the Dodgers want their starting pitchers to pitch deeper into games and preserve the bullpen, it starts with Roberts giving his starters a longer leash.
Play the hot hand in left field
The Dodgers will enter the 2018 season with an abundance of left fielders on the roster. Matt Kemp could be traded but he currently is on the team. Kemp will enter the position battle with Alex Verdugo, Kike Hernandez, Andrew Toles, and Joc Pederson. Rather than just play the splits, Dave Roberts needs to stick with whoever has the hot hand. As Kike showed in the playoffs, you sometimes just have to roll with the hitter who is producing the most, even if it goes against traditional logic.
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Rely more on Alex Wood
The Dodgers received a breakout season from Alex Wood in 2017 as he went 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA. While Wood had an okay post-season he was absolutely magnificent in the World Series, as he had a no-hitter through six innings and allowed only one run in 7 2/3 innings. While Rich Hill is still a solid starting pitcher, he will be 38 years old before next season starts so Roberts may not want to rely on Hill too heavily. Instead, Roberts should push Alex Wood and set the expectation of a number two starter for him. Not only is Wood capable, but he needs to step up if the Dodgers rotation is going to be one of the best again in 2018.
Stop throwing Pedro Baez into the fire
Perhaps the most annoying thing Dave Roberts did in 2017, was putting Baez into so many situations where he shouldn’t have pitched due to his struggles. Roberts almost had a blind loyalty to Baez and it wasn’t even until September when he decided that Baez wasn’t cut out to handle a playoff spot this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if Roberts gives Baez another shot to hold down the eighth inning role, but if he falters then it’s time for Baez to either be demoted or assigned to Triple-A.
These are some new year’s resolutions that Dave Roberts should look to fulfill in the new year. If the Dodgers help make these happen then it just might be the year that the Dodgers win it all in 2018. Regardless of what happens, it will be great to see how Roberts responds to a post-season failure in which many media members and fans are second-guessing him.