LOS ANGELES – No regrets.
The Dodgers returned from Atlanta on Monday and their postseason pitching strategy has been scrutinized and criticized again. The heavy hand of the front office is visible in every bullpen call, and some unconventional solutions make it easy to accuse them of overthinking and even outsmarting themselves when things go wrong.
But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he had heard it all before.
“This is what we have had to deal with … all year round, every year in terms of how we manage the squad or how we play games, use pitchers and the like,” Roberts said. “It’s definitely … more visible in the postseason, which I absolutely understand.
“But I just don’t think that… other doesn’t mean it’s wrong. A bad decision does not mean that it is a bad decision. So I know that everyone in this club believes that we are on the right path and will not compromise anyone, and therefore I think that for me, for us, this is the most important thing. ”
Before Game 5 of their National League Series in San Francisco, Roberts was asked about Max Scherzer getting out of the bullpen in a knockout game. Roberts said it was possible and acknowledged that there is a price to it when you decide to use a starter outside the bullpen.
The Dodgers seem to have paid the price by losing the first two games of the top seven NL championship series against the Atlanta Braves.
Serving the ball for the fourth time in 12 days, Scherzer only lasted 4-1 / 3 innings in Game 2, after which he admitted that his hand was “dead”. Because they used Scherzer outside the bullpen, Corey Knebel was used as a rookie in straight games (NLDS Game 5 and NLCS Game 1), and Roberts admitted before Game 2 that he was reluctant to use Knebel outside the bullpen after that job. This took him out of the game after Scherzer left his start early, cutting Roberts’ options before moving on to Blake Trainen or Kenley Jansen in a game that remained tied to the seventh inning.
Julio Urias was treated in a very chaotic manner. Urias, the only baseball winner to play 20 games in his first full season in the starting rotation, did not start his fifth NLDS game. He entered the third inning after Knebel and Brusdar Graterol opened.
Three days later, Roberts attempted to use Urias as an extra inning – a role he fulfilled with great success during last year’s postseason run – after the Dodgers snatched a two-time lead in the eighth inning of Game 2 against the Braves. He passed two runs and the Dodgers lost in the ninth.
Unlike Scherzer’s bullpen appearance, the Dodgers did not face an exception issue when they worked with Urias in their bullpen plan.
“If we hadn’t gone with Max (to shut down the NLDS), we might not have this conversation right now,” Roberts said Monday. “So I think this is definitely a price point. I don’t think the use of Max in the fifth game is the reason why we lost 2-0 right now in this series. For this episode, we planned to play either Game 4 or Game 5 in the bullpen. So I don’t think using Julio in a 2-1 or 2 game changed that. So I don’t see the cost.
“Things just can’t be scripted. Sometimes we have to deviate from the script to how we feel, what I think is the best chance of winning the game, let alone a particular streak. ”
But the Dodgers’ pitching strategy looked very elaborate – it meant that Scherzer and Urias would be used in these situations, not the pitchers who spent the entire season in the bullpen. On both occasions, Scherzer and Urias changed their routines and didn’t throw bullpen sessions between starts as usual while waiting for bullpen duties.
The traditional Dodgers pitchers have filed 31 serves this postseason, allowing just six runs (1.74 ERA) on 20 hits and three walks, knocking out 40.
“We have an absolutely great bullpen,” Roberts said.
“I don’t think it’s insignificant for our bullpen (using starting pitchers in relief). I don’t know – especially in the long runs. ”
If the Dodgers are really going to make this streak a long run, it’s not the pitch that needs to be changed. They are held back by crime. They averaged 2 of 18 (.111) with runners in assists in their first two games against the Braves and 13 of 68 (.191) in their first eight postseason games.
According to Roberts, this is “absolutely” the biggest difference between last year’s postseason race and this year’s performance.
“Not very good,” Roberts said of the Dodgers bats in these situations. “I don’t need numbers to know what I see. If we’re going to chase, then they don’t have to throw the ball into the hitting zone. So I think we need to block more of the strike zone. When we do this, we will be more successful. ”