Via | Rob Leiter/MLB Photos
Another 100+ win team has been eliminated in the first round of October baseball. The Dodgers lost to the Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS. Pretty shocking because many, including myself, thought the Dodgers would advance. They were leading 3-1 through 7 innings until Roberts decided to keep Kershaw in for two more batters after striking out Eaton in the 7th. In total, Kershaw faced three hitters in the game. My problem isn’t with going with Kershaw to face Eaton, Rendon and Soto. I think any other manager would have done the same in that situation. Kershaw is one of the top pitchers and although his postseason numbers aren’t great, he is the guy you want on the mound to help win in a do-or-die game. It is always easy to question a move after a result happened and although many fans thought it wasn’t a good idea to have Kershaw in, it is a move many managers have done. It’s a damn if you do, damn if you don’t move.
A starting pitcher coming into a game out of the bullpen isn’t an easy task for him. It’s why although a good idea in theory, it is also a risk managers take in do-or-die games. For me, there’s nothing wrong with that. You do what you gotta do to win.
My problem was how Roberts handled the 10th inning. He has Kelly pitch the 9th and instead of having Jansen pitch the 10th, Roberts stays with Kelly. Everyone knows that a closer in a tied game at home does not get the save so there was no reason to save Jansen for anything. The problem grew more when Kelly walked Eaton and gave up a ground rule double to Rendon. While I was screaming at the TV to take Kelly out, Roberts had Soto intentionally walked to load the bases and kept Kelly in to pitch to Kendrick. Roberts had a long leash on Kelly for whatever reason. After the grand slam, Jansen was put in to get the remaining two outs but it was two batters too late.
Roberts didn’t seem to learn from his bullpen management mistakes after losing in the World Series two years in a row and that can be a bit concerning. I won’t be surprised if he is fired but won’t be surprised if he isn’t.
The Dodger players gave their all even if it wasn’t their best at times. I feel bad for them and the fans because as a baseball fan, I wanted them to enter the World Series again. Third time was not a charm for the Dodgers. It was a heart-breaking disappointment.