Dodgers: What can Dave Roberts Improve on in Year Three?

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HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Manager Dave Roberts
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Manager Dave Roberts /
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The Dodgers hired Dave Roberts in 2015 after he wooed the front office in his managerial interviews.  Since becoming the manager of the Dodgers, Dave Roberts has gotten his team further every season.

The Dodgers took a gamble on hiring Dave Roberts, although he was a worthy candidate, most people in the sport considered Gabe Kapler to be the favorite for the Dodgers job.  Instead, the Dodgers went with Dave Roberts, who got the Dodgers to the World Series for the first time since 1988 in only his second season as manager of the club.  This year, Roberts will look to continue his trend of advancing further every season, and win the World Series.

While Dave Roberts has done as well of a job as a manager can do in his first two years, there are definitely areas where he can improve on.  One of the areas where Roberts can improve is not being loyal to certain relievers in the bullpen.  Outside of Kenley Jansen, no Dodger reliever has the track record to support Roberts sticking with them even if they keep struggling.

One instance of Roberts being too loyal to a reliever was in September last season.  Pedro Baez posted an ERA over ten last September and appeared to be losing confidence and pitching worse with every appearance.  Yet, Roberts kept throwing Baez out on the mound just about every day until the Dodgers finally gave up on him.  If Jansen were to struggle then, by all means, keep running him out there, but to trust any other reliever on the team that much is absurd.

Another area of managing that Dave Roberts can improve upon in his third season is to give Kershaw more innings.  Kershaw’s season has been cut short the past two seasons due to back injuries, but even before his injury, Roberts usually pulls Kershaw around 105-110 pitches.  Clayton Kershaw is a workhorse and when his back isn’t bothering him, he is capable of throwing 115-120 pitches each start and giving the Dodgers at least six to seven innings per start.

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Sticking to starting pitching, Roberts also needs to better gauge whether a starting pitcher has it or not.  Take the playoffs, for example, Rich Hill had a bad start to game two of the World Series, but then settled in and appeared to be good for five to six innings.  Instead, Roberts had a quick hook that night and the bullpen was stretched out which resulted in Jansen having to pitch more than one inning and he blew a save.

When Yu Darvish was on the mound, however, it was a different story.  Roberts left Darvish in until the bulk of the damage was already done, and the Dodgers were in a big hole.  If Roberts brought out the quick hook that he had for Rich Hill, the Dodgers may have been able to stop the bleeding and stay within striking distance.  While this is all in painful hindsight, it doesn’t exclude Dave Roberts from the fact that he has to learn to gauge his starting pitchers better.

This article isn’t to totally thrash Dave Roberts, he is definitely one of the better young managers in the game, but he does have areas to improve in.  Roberts is absolutely great at controlling the clubhouse and keeping his players motivated.  He is a player’s manager and a guy that the Dodger players love to go out and battle for each and every night.  It isn’t easy to keep a club motivated for 162 regular season games, but that is exactly what Roberts does.

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Hopefully, Dave Roberts can improve as a manager in his third season with the Dodgers and lead them to their first World Series title since 1988.  Now that the Dodgers have had a taste of the World Series, they will be eager to get back and win it all.  While he isn’t perfect, the Dodgers have a very good manager in Dave Roberts, and if any manager can help the Dodgers along to winning the World Series, it is Dave Roberts.

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