Is it Dave Roberts’ fault that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bullpen fell apart due to various injuries? Is it Dave Roberts’ fault the front office let Kenley Jansen go and replaced him with Craig Kimbrel? Is it Dave Roberts’ fault that Trea Turner’s defense unraveled in the postseason? Is it Dave Roberts’ fault that an historic Dodgers’ offense shelled up against an inferior opponent?
He can’t directly control any of that. But it is his job to navigate such struggles and shortcomings. The problem is that he doesn’t exactly do that when the games matter most.
Look at the Dodgers’ bullpen, for example. There wasn’t really a “plan” heading into the NLDS. Craig Kimbrel and David Price were left off the roster and instead Tommy Kahnle and Yency Almonte were relied upon the most.
How about the pinch-hitting decision in the bottom of the eighth in Game 2? How about starting Trayce Thompson in all four games of the series and benching Cody Bellinger for two of them? We could nitpick and ask why he took Tyler Anderson out after 86 pitches and five scoreless innings in Game 4 knowing his bullpen was taxed from the previous two games.
All we’re trying to say is that those decisions are on the manager. Maybe they’re coming from the front office and Roberts is just following instructions. That could be a possibility. But if that’s not the case, then the Dodgers really need to look within this offseason and determine if Roberts is the one variable in the equation holding the team back.
Not to be harsh, but how can you possibly decide the NEXT DAY (or leak this news to the press) that Roberts would be returning for 2023? They just got eliminated from the postseason! There’s no deliberating here?
Do the Dodgers need a new managerial voice to supplant Dave Roberts?
Was it Roberts’ preseason World Series guarantee that cosmically derailed the 111-win Dodgers’ run? Is he not the suitable voice to motivate his team when the stakes are elevated? Could that explain a 2-for-26 performance with runners in scoring position? Is the team unable to rally around his leadership?
Fans may never get the answer to that question, but it’s perhaps something the front office needs to consider. After all, this postseason failure was different than the rest. On top of botching two 106-win seasons (2019 and 2021), the 2022 Dodgers knew their deficiencies heading into October.
Those notwithstanding, this roster had the the league’s best run differential since 1939. It won the most games of any NL team since 1906. It had the league’s hits leader and ERA leader. The Dodgers led MLB in overall ERA, were first in starters’ ERA, and second in relievers’ ERA. They won the division by 22 games.
Keep looking around, too. Roberts has largely been the constant here. Guys like Freddie Freeman and Tyler Anderson were newcomers this offseason. Trayce Thompson and Gavin Lux, though they’ve been here before, didn’t emerge until this year. Trea Turner was imported in the middle of last season. These guys were among the team’s top contributors in 2022.
As for the regulars? Roberts has witnessed, first hand, the regressions of Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy. Clayton Kershaw’s typically not been able to deliver in October. Mookie Betts isn’t known as a premier postseason hitter.
So even when the constants who seemingly fall short more times than not get the necessary support … the result is the same. And that’s when you have to start more seriously wondering if there needs to be a change in the dugout.