The ominous foreboding was not unfounded.
When the Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League (NL) West and headed straight to the Division Series (DS), pundits cited an anemic starting rotation as their biggest weakness. When the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in two games in the Wild Card Series to become the Dodgers’ DS opponent, the expectation was that they would have a tough time reaching the National League Championship Series (NLCS).
Still, with the Dodgers having won 10 District titles in the last 11 years, fans believed they would have an easy path to the NLCS.
Manager Dave Roberts went with Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 of the DS. Rookie fireballer Bobby Miller was also an option for Game 1, but Roberts trusted Kershaw’s experience and late-season stability. But the trusting axe stuck. He walked off the mound with his head down after a terrible first inning, giving up six runs on six hits and two walks. A crushing 2-11 loss.
Miller, who started Game 2, was removed after allowing three runs on four hits and two walks in 1⅔ innings. The Dodgers fell to their knees, 2-4. After dropping Games 1 and 2 at home in a one-two punch, the series has already shifted to Arizona before traveling to Phoenix.
Game 3 on Wednesday at Chase Field also came down to a pitcher’s duel. Dodgers starter Lance Lynn pitched a scoreless second inning before giving up four runs on four solo home runs in the third. The Dodgers lost 2-4. The runs Lynn gave up were all the runs they could muster.
It’s fair to say that the Dodgers’ postseason failures stem from a lack of starting pitching. As MLB.com put it, “There are plenty of reasons to blame the Dodgers. Instead of addressing their biggest needs in the trade market in early August, the Dodgers tried to solve them internally, and their pitching plan for this series largely sealed their fate.
In other words, Dodgers president Andrew Friedman didn’t add a top-tier starting pitcher last summer, and now they’re in this mess. Even Lynn, who was acquired in a trade from the Chicago White Sox and had been doing a decent job with a 7-2 record and 4.36 ERA, had a “gates of hell” outing in Game 3.
Lynn allowed 44 home runs, the most of any pitcher in the entire regular season. It was no coincidence that he was hit by four homers in one inning.
What must have been going through Roberts’ mind to let his starter get hit by four home runs. Lynn gave up his first home run to Heraldo Perdomo in the top of the third inning, breaking the 0-0 tie. The Arizona home fans were starting to get excited.
One inning later, Lin was hit by Ketel Marte’s second homer to right field, but Roberts didn’t budge as he looked at Lin’s face in disbelief.
Two innings later, Christian Walker hit a solo homer to left, and that’s when the Dodgers’ bullpen made its move: left-hander Caleb Ferguson came in and started to warm up.
Roberts was still on the bench when the next batter, Gabriel Moreno, crushed a Lynn four-pitch to right, which was reversed by video review from a home run to a foul. But as if to mock Roberts’ attitude, Moreno crushed Lin’s next pitch over the left-center field fence. Roberts stormed out of the dugout.
Of course, the manager can’t take all the blame for the DS. Regular-season MVP candidates Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman’s series collapse is one for the history books. In three games, Betts went 1-for-11 with a walk and a run scored, while Freeman went 1-for-10 with a walk and a run scored.
Roberts has been called the best manager in baseball. Roberts, who took the helm of the Dodgers in November 2015 after serving as a bench coach for the San Diego Padres, had a 753-442 (.630) regular-season record in eight years leading up to this year. That ranks fourth in winning percentage among the 839 managers of all time, and first among the 142 who have managed more than 1,000 games.
The Dodgers also accomplished the feat of winning 100 regular-season games in four consecutive seasons from 2019 through this year, the first time in Major League Baseball history, excluding the 60-game shortened 2020 season. It’s no small feat for Roberts, but the Dodgers have missed the first round of the postseason three times in the last five years. Last year, after winning a franchise-record 111 games in the regular season, the Dodgers lost to San Diego three games to one in the DS.
Roberts was 45-39 in the postseason before this loss. With a winning percentage of over 5%, it’s hard to argue with that. Also, don’t discount the three NL championships and one World Series title he’s won while leading fall ball for eight straight years.
Nonetheless, Roberts has a reputation for being weak in the fall because of his frequent use of mercenaries and gimmicks. In particular, the Dodgers’ DS performances last year and this year are among the worst in franchise history.
Nevertheless, the Dodgers have given Roberts a “long run mandate” with two extensions because he gives them what they want. The Dodgers are the best box office franchise in Major League Baseball. From 2013 to this year, they led the league in attendance for 10 consecutive years (excluding the 2020 corona-free season). This is the seventh consecutive year under Roberts.
No other metric is more important to a professional organization than attendance. Attendance translates into revenue and increased value for the club. It’s a raison d’être that only regular season performance can guarantee. The Dodgers were valued at $4.8 billion by Forbes in April, second only to the New York Yankees ($7.1 billion). This can be attributed in part to Roberts’ leadership. Postseason success is a bonus.토토사이트
This is why the Dodgers trust Roberts, even though they have a “nightmare” every fall. Even when the media and fans criticize Roberts, Friedman may announce, “He’s still our manager next year.” Roberts signed a three-year extension last March that will keep him at the helm of the Dodgers through 2025.