2019 NLDS: Bringing Clayton Kershaw out of the bullpen
The blown lead in the seventh inning against the Padres in 2022 feels awfully similar to the blown lead in the eighth inning in the 2019 NLDS against the Washington Nationals. Both games were absolutely winnable for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Roberts putting in the wrong pitcher at the wrong time is ultimately what lost the game.
In the case of 2019, Roberts once again tried to recapture the magic from a previous decision and went with Clayton Kershaw out of the bullpen. It worked in the 2018 NLCS, so it had to work in the 2019 NLDS, right?
Every decision is different, and while it may have worked one year, that does not guarantee it will work another year against a completely different opponent.
To be fair, the decision did initially seem to pay off, as Kershaw came into the game in the top of the seventh in a high-leverage spot and was able to strike out Adam Eaton.
But that is where Kershaw’s outing should have ended. Instead of trusting his bullpen to get the final six outs, Roberts left Kershaw out there against the two best hitters in the Nationals’ lineup. Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto made him pay for that decision, hitting back-to-back home runs on back-to-back pitches.
Just like 2022, the offense was in too much shock to overcome this jarring series of events, allowing the game to go to extra innings, where Howie Kendrick delivered the final blow with a grand slam.