"Third Time's the Charm!" -- The 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Thread

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beefchopper

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continued:

“I wanted to keep Kenta away from Soto,” Roberts said.

So rather than mix-and-match his other arms, Roberts went with Kershaw. In that moment, he behaved as if this was still the summer of 2016, before Kershaw suffered a series of back injuries and became prone to home runs. When asked why he trusted Kershaw, Roberts referenced the past.

“He’s probably the best pitcher of our generation,” Roberts said. He added, “It just didn’t work out. So there’s always going to be second-guessing when things don’t work out, but I’ll take my chances any day on Clayton.”

Roberts ignored all of Kershaw’s ugly postseason history, the collapses in 2013 and 2014 and 2016 and 2017. He ignored all of Kershaw’s decline, the decreased velocity and misshapen slider. He ignored the armada of other relievers in favor of Kershaw, the unfortunate symbol of this franchise’s inability to secure a title. “I felt great,” Roberts maintained afterward, “about running Clayton back out there for two hitters.”

The decision added an indelible image to the Dodgers photo album of postseason misery, the sight of Kershaw alone on the bench, staring at his feet, after he surrendered the homers to Rendon and Soto. A pall spread over the ballpark. Kershaw put on a jacket and lingered on the bench. He barely even looked up when Will Smith hit a drive to the wall in the ninth inning. Kershaw stayed in the same place as Kelly combusted in the 10th.

Maeda had buzzed through three hitters in the eighth after Kershaw left. Kelly did the same in the ninth. Roberts thought Kelly worthy of another turn in extra innings, even with Jansen loitering in the bullpen and Kolarek gathering moss beside him. Roberts trusted his gut.

“My eyes tell me that he should go back out there because he’s throwing the ball really well,” he said.

The success stopped almost immediately. Kelly walked Eaton. Rendon doubled. With two runners in scoring position, Roberts declined to use Kolarek against Soto. But he reasoned that his best chance to keep the game tied would, amazingly, still be Kelly. Roberts thought Kelly could get Kendrick to bounce into a double play.

“Nobody out, you’re in a tie ball game, yeah, you could go to Kolarek, infield is going to be in, hope for a (strikeout),” Roberts said. “But I just felt that Joe had a good chance to put Howie on the ground and potentially then get Kenley on Zimmerman. And so my thought was to try to get a ground ball right there.”

Kendrick did not hit the ball on the ground. He hit a towering drive. His dugout erupted. The Dodgers looked shell-shocked.

The season was over soon after. That was it — 106 victories, more than any other by a Dodgers team in franchise history, rendered moot by the missteps of their manager.

The players struggled to fathom the shock. The numbness carried over into their clubhouse after the game. “It sucks,” Kelly said, which summed things up. Rich Hill choked up when asked about Kershaw. Jansen shrugged when asked how it felt to watch the late innings take place without him.

“Doc,” Jansen said, “he had his game plan.”

The plan never came to fruition. The plan unraveled in spectacular fashion. The plan will stain the reputation of Dave Roberts, one of the most successful managers in franchise history. Only a championship can erase that sort of blemish. And the Dodgers will spend yet another October without one.
 

beefchopper

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Molly nailed it.

No, Dodger fans — you did not deserve to have the season end this way
By Molly Knight
LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers won a franchise-record 106 games in the regular season. But they failed to get out of the National League Division Series.

In the decisive winner-take-all Game 5 against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night, starting pitcher Walker Buehler was at his finest, pitching 6 2/3 dominant innings of one-run ball on four hits. When he ran into trouble with two on and two out in the seventh, manager Dave Roberts called for Clayton Kershaw to face Nationals lefty Adam Eaton. He struck him out on three pitches, and that should have been it for Kershaw, who is not used to pitching in relief. But with eight outs to go to advance to the Dodgers’ fourth consecutive championship series, Roberts made a series of moves that set his pitchers up to fail, his team flailing toward the offseason and the fans wanting to puke.

For reasons that will never be clear, Roberts left the left-handed Kershaw in the game in the eighth inning to face Anthony Rendon, one of the game’s best hitters, then Juan Soto, another one of the game’s best hitters, even though Kenta Maeda and Adam Kolarek were both presumably alive and able to pitch to those guys with a much better chance of setting them down. Apparently, Roberts has not yet seen Kershaw implode in the playoffs enough when asked to do too much.

Either that or he was too scared to stick his neck out with another pitcher and have to take the blame when it didn’t work. If Kershaw fell apart, he knew where the blame would solely rest. It was an excruciating decision that set up the Dodgers’ franchise player to fail yet again. And fail he did, giving up solo home runs to Rendon and Soto on back-to-back pitches.

And when Roberts went to pull a devastated Kershaw off a playoff mound yet again, it was as if the Dodgers manager located a fresh patch of skin on the body of every Dodger fan that wasn’t already covered in playoff scar tissue and then beat the hell out of it with a baseball bat. Those fresh wounds were then doused with acid when he finally brought Maeda into a tie game and the dominant righty reliever, who should have been in the game to start the inning against Rendon, struck out the side.

I know that sounds harsh. But being a Dodger fan over the past seven seasons has been excruciating. As I sit here writing this, my phone is blowing up. I’m getting expletive-laden texts from numbers I don’t recognize. My mother is sending me crying emojis. Childhood friends are screaming for a fatwa against the coaching staff.

So what are we, followers of this godforsaken team, hapless human beings born into this mess, supposed to do about it now? I don’t know. I could tell you to give up, but if fandom were a choice, you likely would have abandoned it already. I could tell you to lick your wounds, let it go and focus on Lakers season. That may work for some, but for others it will feel like a hollow way to make up for the days, weeks, and months of your lives you spent watching silly baseball games all summer, hoping that this would be the year, only to have it end in the most painful fashion imaginable.

I do not have anything personal against Roberts. I do not think he is a good manager. The Dodgers have been so talented lately that they basically can cruise to 95-win seasons with someone as nutty as me at the helm. The postseason requires managers with feel, especially in the late innings. And that’s where Roberts gets exposed.

I noticed last year during the World Series against the Red Sox that the game seemed to speed up on Roberts a lot more than it did his counterpart, Alex Cora. There was no clear indication of this Wednesday night when Roberts allowed Joe Kelly to load the bases in the 10th inning of a tie game, give up a back-breaking grand slam to Howie Kendrick and then stay in the game. Roberts could have brought in Kolarek to face Juan Soto, because he is on the roster to face Juan Soto. Instead, Roberts opted to have Kelly intentionally walk Soto. Kendrick put the game away in the next at-bat.

There’s a huge misconception that Dave Roberts is some sort of analytics puppet. But his late-inning playoff blunders have nothing to do with analytics. They’re all gut. Which is terrifying.

And I would be remiss if I did not mention that Kelly has now been an integral part of three Dodgers postseason exits, two as an opponent and one as a member of the team. Which is about as cruel as watching Kershaw give up the game-tying home runs. (Just kidding — nothing is that cruel.)

It felt inevitable the Dodgers would lose this series. The Nationals are a dangerous team to face in a short series with Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin. (They figure to be easier to take down in the championship series, but the Dodgers didn’t get that chance.) Also, it’s really, really hard to make it to the World Series three seasons in a row. The last NL team to do it was the Cardinals from 1942 to 1945.

So the Dodgers were due for something like this to happen. That doesn’t make the reality of it any less painful. And, of course, the method of execution was excruciating. How low must Roberts’ opinion of Kenley Jansen have been to let Kelly give up four runs and LET HIM STAY IN THE GAME before he turned to his franchise closer. This team’s bullpen was supposed to be a strength. The mismanagement of it wound up being its death.

So what now? The Dodgers enter another long winter with more questions than answers. How can you field a roster with excellent players, year after year, and fail to make it over the top? Is it the manager’s late-game decision making? Is it the failure of franchise players to produce when it matters most? Corey Seager went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a double play that killed a first-inning rally. He hit .150 this postseason with a .390 OPS. Kershaw gave up two late-inning home runs that tied the game. Kelly was atrocious. Jansen was barely used.

It’s hard to say that Roberts deserves to be fired after a season in which the Dodgers won a franchise-record number of games. But nothing I’ve seen gives me confidence he is the guy to guide the Dodgers through the 11 postseason victories they will need to reach their ultimate goal of winning a world championship. If he stays, he’s never allowed to use Kershaw in relief again when he has plenty of viable relievers ready to go.

Wednesday night was a disaster, but it was nowhere near as bad as what happened in 2017 when the Dodgers should have won the whole thing and blew it — twice. Consider these words a firm hug: It could have been worse. This could have been Game 7 of the World Series.

So good night, sweet Dodger fans. Dream of a confident manager who puts his relievers in positions to succeed and franchise players who go out and do it. Then reach into your brain and grab this season and chuck it into the ocean. Take a deep breath, a long walk and maybe a shot of whiskey. Your heart may be broken right now, but it’s got six months to heal. And if I know you, it will, right on time.
 

NewportDodger

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I wish there were an onslaught of these types of stories to show what a complete disaster Roberts has been and will always be as a manager. He has been coddled since he got here and there is no accountability on this team at all for the poor decisions he has made and continues to make.
 

NewportDodger

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I honestly feel that if you have a 3-0 lead and an elite team, you should be able to win that game. I have felt all year that unless the Dodgers have 5 or 6 run leads, they are going to be in trouble at some point later in the game because of the BP. We seem to have a team that goes from 8 runs to 1 run in games so we need to build our staff to win 1-0 games. Spend the money like the Yankees have done to build a BP that can lock you out from innings 6-9. Load up on nasty arms and go from there.
 

Raptor Dodger

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It seems ironic that Roberts stoutly defended Jansen throughout his regular season struggles, then had less confidence in Jansen than he had in Kelly to pitch the ninth/tenth. Obviously, there is no save possibility at home at that point, so why are you saving your closer. The answer is that you no longer consider him trustworthy.
 

NewportDodger

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It seems ironic that Roberts stoutly defended Jansen throughout his regular season struggles, then had less confidence in Jansen than he had in Kelly to pitch the ninth/tenth. Obviously, there is no save possibility at home at that point, so why are you saving your closer. The answer is that you no longer consider him trustworthy.
And they are stuck with a guy that they have no confidence in for 2 more years unless he opts out which he won't because nobody is going to pay a deteriorating closer that kind of money.

Jansen has 2 more years at $18 million and $20 million.
Kelly has 3 more years at $8.5, $8.5 and $12 million. There is a $4 million buyout in 2022 if they want to dump him which I hope they do since they can save $8 million.

A total of $67 million dollars for two guys who can't close games. These are the main reasons why I can't see AF spending more money on the BP. If they do anything, it will probably be a trade.
 

claude osteen

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Iro
It seems ironic that Roberts stoutly defended Jansen throughout his regular season struggles, then had less confidence in Jansen than he had in Kelly to pitch the ninth/tenth. Obviously, there is no save possibility at home at that point, so why are you saving your closer. The answer is that you no longer consider him trustworthy.
Ironic or moronic?
 

grabarkewitz

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Just heard Kapler got fired. There’s your landing spot for Roberts unless the Padres want him. Just seems that from the media Roberts is rightly going to pay for this last failure with his job.
 

grabarkewitz

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Ironic or moronic?
The Boy texted Roberts will Roberts when he didn’t bring in Jansen last night. There is no understanding Roberts’ motivation for his moves. Gut reaction? Why not a little voice in my head or I was playing a hunch? All the analytics in the world won’t help if your manager is listening to his stomach.
 

NewportDodger

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Just heard Kapler got fired. There’s your landing spot for Roberts unless the Padres want him. Just seems that from the media Roberts is rightly going to pay for this last failure with his job.
That’s just wishful thinking on your part. There is not even a 1% chance that Roberts will be fired. You can feel the hubris he has when he talks because he knows that there is no leash or any potential penalties for his actions.

I am so with you by the way but I refuse to get excited about the possibility because he is the robot the FO wants. I always get excited in the Winter that AF will get the critical pieces we need and end up disappointed and I was excited that he would get the BP pieces we needed at the trade deadline but like the Winter I walked away shaking my head.

I’m just so tired of the emotionless way they operate on this team. It’s just checking boxes and printing money.
 

Norm

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Pedro makes a good point about announcing days in advance that Kershaw would relieve Buehler.
 

beefchopper

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It's hard for me to believe that any team facing a win or go home game doesn't prepare for every single pitcher who might come in. I see advance warning as a non issue. The issue is he NEVER SHOULD HAVE EVEN BEEN CONSIDERED FOR THAT ROLE. The only way Kershaw should have seen that mound yesterday is if they were in extra innings and ran out of other choices. He sucks as a relief pitcher.
 

beefchopper

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Pedro makes a good point about announcing days in advance that Kershaw would relieve Buehler.
This is same old same old. Reporters love Roberts because he's nice and gives them plenty of quotes. They are trying to cover up for him by pretending that everything is AF's fault and Roberts is just being a good soldier taking the hit for his boss. I don't buy that at all.
 

Hagdag

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You know what was funny last night. TBS was panning a camera into the Nats dugout, and I was catching glimpses of the iPads or Surfaces playing what looked like video of the game....I thought it was a live feed of the game.
When I saw the second glimpse, it was video of Kershaw....and Ferris was still pitching.
At first I thought I didn't think you could have live feed of the game in the dugout. But then realized the devices were playing video of Kershaw.
 

Norm

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This is same old same old. Reporters love Roberts because he's nice and gives them plenty of quotes. They are trying to cover up for him by pretending that everything is AF's fault and Roberts is just being a good soldier taking the hit for his boss. I don't buy that at all.
This is not an exoneration of Roberts, at Friedman's expense. It was Roberts who was talking about Kershaw coming in to relieve Buehler days in advance.
 

dsinsocal

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Pedro makes a good point about announcing days in advance that Kershaw would relieve Buehler.
Suggesting that a team wouldn't be prepared to face Kershaw (or Strasburg, or Scherzer, or Corbin) in a game 5/7 is idiotic. OF COURSE they would be prepared to face them, whether the manager announces it ahead of time or not.

Dave Martinez specifically said that Scherzer wasn't available.... do you honestly think the Dodgers weren't prepared for him anyway, just in case??

Bad take by Pedro.
 

Raptor Dodger

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This is not an exoneration of Roberts, at Friedman's expense. It was Roberts who was talking about Kershaw coming in to relieve Buehler days in advance.
Yes, the Dodgers even stated that Kershaw would start Game 2 so he could be available from the pen later in the series. Whether or not that helped the Nats prepare is up for debate, but it certainly gave them a chance to put more emphasis there. The bottom line is that we all know that Clayton is no longer the pitcher he was several years ago. His fastball velocity has dropped 3 mph the last few years. There was a failure to upgrade the bullpen, and this was a regrettable one game band aid.

Another view is that I thought the bullpen would be fine with May, Gonsolin, and a hot down the stretch Maeda. They were not properly used to that effect.
 

NewportDodger

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This is going to be a really long period of time for Dodger fans until Spring Training. What sucks is that next year, no matter how many wins they get during the season, the media and critics are going to look at the past postseason failures and say it's irrelevant until they close it out.

There are also going to be a lot of people talking about Bellinger if he wins the MVP when you look at these stats:

1st Half .336, 107 Hits, 30 HR's, 71 RBI, 54 BB
2nd Half .261, 63 Hits, 17 HR's, 41 RBI, 41 BB

Dude just fell off a cliff when it mattered.
 
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