The Dodgers may have recently started to turn a corner, at least in the offense department. Time will tell if they can actually keep it up. The last two pitching performances by Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu have been pretty darn good, too. If Kenta Maeda and Alex Wood can both have good starts after their previous outings which were atrocious, we might be able to see that the Dodgers are indeed finally on an upswing.
During bad play, one of the fans’ favorite things to do is to criticize every move the manager makes. And, of course, no manager is perfect. How could one be? But sometimes, managers make mistakes, which may or may not come back to bite them in the end.
There has been a few instances of second guessing Dave Roberts already this season, with the Dodgers having more than their share of extra-inning games. Recall a certain 15-inning game in early April against the Diamondbacks where Roberts only had Wilmer Font left in the bullpen for the 11th inning. He did throw four scoreless innings before allowing the winning run to score in the 15th. Font was again called upon in a 14-inning game at the end of that same week where once again he gave up the winning run.
At the time, I defended Roberts because how could he or any manager know the game would end up going that long. I still stand by that. A manager manages for the nine innings the game is typically played in, not for the what-if scenarios that could arise down the road.
In Monday night’s game against the Padres, Roberts lifted Matt Kemp in favor of Joc Pederson after the fourth inning. Kemp has been one of the few batters consistent at the plate so far this season, and Joc, for lack of better words, has not. Now, the Dodgers had a 6-2 lead at the time, Ryu was pitching well, so I’m sure Roberts just wanted to get Pederson some reps in non-pressure situations. After the game, he stated that he pulled Kemp to “keep him fresh” and give Joc a chance against the right handed relievers of the Padres.
The move ended up working out fine, as the Dodgers went on to cruise to a 10-3 win. But with the Dodgers only carrying a four man bench, it seems players off the bench are at a premium. And if you get yourself into a situation when you’re tied or within one run in late-innings situations, you don’t want to squander the players that you do have.
Roberts has shown himself to be a very good manager in his first few seasons with the team. Maybe his biggest flaw last year, ironically, what not pulling a pitcher fast enough to save Game 7. Regardless, I’m not worried about these moves within the game, but I would like to see Roberts a little less quick with the hook, especially in close games. The Dodgers had so many close games to start out the season that maybe they could be around .500 had things played out just a little different. But, I also understand that with the injuries plaguing this team, he has a revolving door of players to get in the game. I’m sure we all can’t wait for the team to be back at full strength. In the meantime, hopefully getting the offense back in gear against the Padres will actually get the team to the .500 mark on the season.