Most of the conversations about the
In retrospect, they did something monumental. They did something that changed the franchise. They did something that will take them back to the
There were several memorable performances Thursday night in the Dodgers’ 4-3 victory over the
Roberts was as valuable as any of them, if not more. On a night when starting pitcher
He used six pitchers. And as he did, he broke convention, calling on his most reliable setup man in the third inning, his closer in the seventh and his ace in the ninth.
This was a managerial master class, and this wasn't a fluke.
The Dodgers' continued TV blackout prevented most of L.A. from witnessing it, but Roberts did this all season. It's why he's the odds-on favorite to be named the NL manager of the year, when the award is announced in November.
"These are conversations that me, the front office, we have daily, about just kind of being forward-thinking, being open-minded to how you can use guys in certain roles," Roberts said. "Today was a prime example."
Except this wasn’t only about utilizing the pages and pages of information provided to him by
If Kershaw played the role of Orel Hershiser on this night, Roberts was Tommy Lasorda.
When Jansen walked
Roberts was rewarded with his first postseason series win.
Roberts had to improvise not only in the ninth, but throughout the game. The same front office he credited for opening his mind handed him a roster with no starting pitching depth, as the strategy of building a rotation around historically fragile arms predict-ably backfired. The result was that Roberts had to start Kershaw on short rest in Game 4 and to start Hill on short rest in Game 5.
Hill was visibly fatigued Thursday. With the Dodgers down in the third inning, 1-0, swift Nationals center fielder Trea Turner reached third base with only one out. Roberts allowed Hill to pitch to Werth, whom he struck out. He then signaled for Hill to intentionally walk Murphy, at which point he called on setup man
Roberts had to scramble again in the seventh , this time after left-hander Grant Dayton served up a two-run home run to Chris Heisey and then allowed a single to
"It was an opportunity to get Kenley in there and just ride him as long as we could," Roberts said.
Jansen recorded the next seven outs, including one in the ninth.
Now compare Roberts’ performance to what was happening with Nationals Manager
Baker returned starting pitch- er
Scherzer served up a leadoff home run to Joc Pederson that tied the score, 1-1.
The Dodgers went ahead, 2-1, later in the inning on Ruiz’s single off left-hander Sammy Solis. Solis remained in the game to retire
Baker summoned Shawn Kelly to pitch to Justin Turner. On the surface, the move made sense. Kelly is a right-hander. Turner bats from a right-handed stance.
The problem was that Turner has better numbers against right-handers than he does against left- handers. The third baseman batted .305 this year against right-handers, .209 against left-handers.
Turner blasted a triple to center field, driving in two runs to increase the Dodgers' lead to 4-1.
Soon after, the Nationals' season was over. The Dodgers' wasn't.
The difference? Roberts was certainly one.