First, Dave Roberts lost his cool with the Los Angeles Dodgers' bullpen last week when he decided to use Caleb Ferguson for the ninth inning against three right-handers in Cincinnati. The result was a walk-off loss to the Reds.
What's changed since Roberts publicly called out his guys? Things have arguably gotten worse. His plea for the unit to "be better" hasn't worked for two reasons. For one, this group of relievers isn't good, and that's probably not going to change.
But perhaps more important is Roberts' failure to put them in the best position to succeed. Admittedly, it's no easy task. The skipper is faced with difficult decisions more times than not on a weekly basis. Unfortunately for him, that's not the players' problem.
On Wednesday night, the bullpen did it again, coughing up a two-run lead after Clayton Kershaw exited following another quality start. It wasn't his best, but six innings of two-run ball should more often than not do the trick.
That's when Roberts decided to call on Yency Almonte and his 6.75 ERA ... to pitch TWO innings! Almonte put up a clean seventh, setting the White Sox down in order, but then faltered in the eighth when he immediately served up a double and a homer to relinquish the Dodgers' lead.
Dave Roberts continues to call out Dodgers bullpen despite his mistakes
That was hardly the end of the misery, though. Roberts then thought the struggling Alex Vesia would be the next best option to clean up the mess, but the left-hander promptly surrendered a run by hitting a batter, advancing the runner to second on a wild pitch, and then allowing an RBI single.
It gets better, though. After allowing Almonte to head out for a second inning because Roberts thought he threw "four or five" pitches (it was 10), he didn't let Brusdar Graterol, who threw seven in his 0.2 innings of work, come out for the ninth.
That duty went to Tayler Scott, who, as of late, definitely wasn't the right guy to preserve a tie. He finished with three earned runs on two hits and a walk in just 0.2 innings. Roberts then (finally) went to Victor González after it was too late. And he allowed two hits anyway to pile onto Scott's troubles.
After the game, Roberts said that was one the Dodgers "couldn't lose" given the position that they were in, adding his bullpen "needs to be better. Period." Has he not yet grasped the fact that they'll only be as good as he'll allow them to be?
It doesn't help his case that he told reporters both Graterol and Evan Phillips were available and ready to go after Almonte's clean frame. But he tried to steal outs with the struggling right-hander and paid for it. Instead of taking the first spotless frame from Almonte for the first time since May 28, Roberts stayed at the roulette table, doubled down, and lost it all.
In any other scenario, it's hard to believe fans would be frustrated with their manager holding their guys accountable. It's an essential part of the game when the players are falling short of their end of the bargain.
But this is a massive tag-team failure. Not only is the bullpen among the worst in the league, but everybody knows it and those in charge have done next to nothing to fix it. Trade acquisitions can't improve the status quo for at least another month, so with that being the reality, it's on Roberts to press the right buttons.
Anytime you're on track to record a franchise-worst mark, it's typically a team effort, in this case from the last guy in the bullpen to the manager.
The sooner Roberts realizes that, the sooner this ERA can melt away from the ghastly 5.00 mark.