The defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers find themselves down 0-2 to the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS. After starting the series as the favorite, the Dodgers head back to Los Angeles having suffered two walk-off defeats.
Both games were low scoring and dominated by the pitchers. In Game 1, the Dodgers struck out seven times with 10 hits but only two runs in the 3-2 loss. In Game 2, Los Angeles struck out 10 times and only had four hits but scored four runs, largely because of their nine walks. Even still, it wasn’t enough, as they lost 5-4.
Fortunately for the Dodgers, this isn’t unfamiliar territory. Last year in the 2020 NLCS, also against the Braves, they lost the first two games. They even went down 3-1 before ultimately storming back to advance to the World Series and winning that as well. Though it feels particularly dangerous, the two-game deficit isn’t the end for this loaded Dodgers team.
Although home-field advantage is actually a factor this year, Los Angeles has the talent to come back, but they will have to clean up the mistakes they made through the first two games.
Some of those mistakes were manager Dave Roberts’ pitching decisions. In a series this close, every pitch counts and there is very little margin for error, as demonstrated by the two walk-off losses. As Roberts looks back at the first two games to see what he could have done different, there are a few pitching decisions that could have swung this series the other direction. Here are the three biggest that Roberts should regret.
3 NLCS pitching mistakes Dave Roberts should regret: Using Julio Urias out of the bullpen in Game 2
When Julio Urias came in to pitch the eighth inning of Sunday night’s game, it was immediately viewed as a head-scratching move by everyone. Urias, who is not only a starting pitcher, is scheduled to start Game 4 for the Dodgers this Wednesday. So when he came in, it was met with much criticism because it was taking innings off a starting pitcher’s arm when other people were available in the pen.
Roberts deemed it as a necessary gamble, arguing that Urias was the best man available to get them through the bottom of the eighth.
Well, the much-criticized gamble came under even more scrutiny when it didn’t pay off. Urias pitched the entire bottom of the eighth, throwing 14 pitches and allowing three hits and two runs. Those runs allowed the Braves to tie the game at four heading into the ninth.
Not only did Roberts deploy a starter in a situation that wasn’t absolutely necessary, but he ultimately chose the wrong man to get them through the inning, costing them the ball game.