Dodgers: Grading the Month of April for Dave Roberts
The month of April was a bad month altogether for the Dodgers. Many key members of last years World Series team struggled, including Manager Dave Roberts.
The Dodgers have won five consecutive NL West division titles, so the thought of winning the division and making the playoffs seemed like a formality. After injuries to Justin Turner and now Corey Seager gone for the season, the playoffs are no longer a sure thing for the Dodgers. Players struggled to get going in April and so did Manager Dave Roberts.
Dave Roberts has always had his critics dating back to last years post-season, and up until this year, I have defended Roberts. After the April that Roberts just had, I can no longer defend him as I used to. Just as the Dodgers offense is in a funk, Dave Roberts is struggling to manage the Dodgers through this tumultuous stretch.
Here are the key events that came to mind when grading Dave Roberts for April:
Bullpen Management (or mismanagement)
Last October Dave Roberts seemed to pull out all the stops when it came to managing his bullpen but this April, Roberts was always one off when it came to managing the bullpen. Roberts seems not only to be pulling his starters too soon, but he is also pulling his relievers too soon. Last Friday Roberts pulled Josh Fields after getting one out. The next inning he put in Cingrani who allowed four runs in the Dodgers loss.
While Fields has had a few bad outings since then, up until last Friday, he had been one of if not the most reliable reliever in the Dodgers bullpen. Why did Roberts pull Fields after recording one out? It doesn’t make any sense. Roberts did the same thing last Saturday in game one of the Dodgers’ doubleheader.
Ross Stripling pitched the sixth inning with a 9-2 lead, and then he was pulled after one inning. Why would Roberts not let Stripling go multiple innings and save the pen for game two? That was another boneheaded move. Roberts needs to get better at managing his bullpen, including not using Pedro Baez although that’s on the front office to demote Baez.
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As we detailed here, last Sunday Dave Roberts benched Cody Bellinger for supposedly not hustling. Cody took a big swing and fell to one knee so he wound up at second base instead of a triple. Rather than address this with Bellinger in private, Roberts took it to the media to let everyone know why Cody was benched.
That simply can not happen, you keep your locker room discussions in the locker room and out of the media. This is how you lose a locker room and it showed Roberts managerial lack of experience. This should havenever turned into a public issue and the fact it did is all on Roberts.
While injuries have played a big part in the Dodgers lack of a quality and consistent lineup, Dave Roberts has not helped himself in creating lineups. Kiké Hernandez is a very nice backup player but under no circumstances should he bat third in the lineup. Yet, Roberts consistently pencils in Hernandez third in the order.
As crazy as it would have sounded before the season, Yasmani Grandal and Matt Kemp have been the Dodgers best and most consistent hitters and they should make up the middle of the Dodgers order as long as they’re hot. Hopefully the return of some key players like Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig make the Dodgers lineup more deadly and more consistent.