Exclusive: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will return despite playoff failures

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts congratulates Max Muncy after his two-run home run against the Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts congratulates Max Muncy after the player’s two-run home run against the Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who was heavily criticized in the aftermath of the club’s stunning season-ending loss to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, will return next season, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

Roberts, 47, has three years remaining on his contract after agreeing to a new deal in December. The Dodgers are 393-256 (.606) during the regular season and 25-22 (.532) in the playoffs with him at the helm.

An outfielder for five teams during a 10-year major league playing career, Roberts has managed for the Dodgers for four seasons, beginning in 2016 when he was named National League manager of the year. He has guided the team to the National League West title each season, extending the organization’s streak to seven years.


The club claimed the National League pennant the last two years before falling in the World Series to the Houston Astros in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox in 2018. Roberts was the first manager to lead the Dodgers that far in consecutive seasons since Tommy Lasorda in 1977 and 1978.

The merciless booing of Dodgers manager Dave Roberts in the NLDS Game 5 loss to the Nationals was understandable, but it rightly didn’t lead to his being fired.

Oct. 10, 2019

But the Dodgers failed to return to the World Series this season despite being heavy favorites to win the National League after setting a franchise record with 106 wins. It is the first season the Dodgers will not reach the National League Championship Series under Roberts’ watch.

Wednesday’s defeat in Game 5 of the National League Division Series was particularly agonizing. The Dodgers, the significant favorites in the five-game series, led 3-1 through seven innings before their pitching imploded. The collapse began when Clayton Kershaw, summoned from the bullpen the prior inning, allowed back-to-back home runs to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto on three pitches in the eighth.

Two innings later, Roberts left Joe Kelly in with the bases loaded and Kelly surrendered a go-ahead grand slam to Howie Kendrick.

“If the blame falls on me, I’ve got no problem with it,” Roberts said after the loss. “I feel that my job is to put guys in the best position to have success and if it doesn’t work out, there’s always going to be second-guessing, and I got no problem wearing the brunt of that. That’s okay.”

If Roberts finishes out his contract, he will be the first person to manage the Dodgers for more than five seasons since Lasorda. The Hall of Famer managed the Dodgers for parts of 21 years, concluding with the 1996 season, and led them to their last World Series in 1988.


On Wednesday, after the most successful regular season in team history, the drought reached 31 years.

“Made sure that the guys understood how proud I was, how they competed all year long, didn’t take a day off,” Roberts said. “You got to give credit to the Nationals, the way they played and came in here and won a series.“