Dave Roberts is the right man to lead Dodgers

(News4usonline) – In his first outing of the major league baseball season, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was pulled from a game in which he had thrown seven perfect innings on only 80 pitches. There have been 23 perfect games in the history of MLB.  

Dave Roberts is the only manager to pull a starter after at least seven innings of perfect ball. Roberts now has the distinction of pulling this off twice.  

“At the end of the day those are individual things, those are selfish goals. We are trying to win, that is really all we are here for. As much as I would have wanted to do it, I have thrown 75 pitches in a game and I had not gone six innings let alone seven,” Kershaw said after the flawless outing.

Kershaw has been the face of the Dodgers franchise for well over a decade (14 years and counting), and fans wanted nothing more than to see their home-grown future Hall of Famer throw a perfect game.

April 15, 2022. Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts (left) in the dugout during Jackie Robinson Day. Photo by Astrud Reed/News4usonline

Due to a number of circumstances including Kershaw’s injury history as he continues to age, a shortened spring training because of the lockout, and the fact that it was Kershaw’s first start of the season, the decision to turn to the bullpen was easy for Roberts.  

The Dodgers have their eyes set on another World Series title. It is Roberts’ job to do everything he can in order to ensure that the Boys in Blue will be getting sized up for championship rings in October.

It still feels very fresh, but Roberts is now in his seventh season as the skipper of the Dodgers, and he has quietly compiled the fifth-highest winning percentage all-time amongst major league managers.

All four names ahead of him coached prior to 1950. It is time we start recognizing the greatness of Roberts as a manager as he continues to build on one of the best starts to a managerial career in MLB history. The Dodgers extended Roberts once again before the start of the 2022 season who is now set to manage the team through 2025.

“It’s exciting, Roberts said at spring training in Glendale after news of the extension. “What it means for me to put this uniform on every day and respecting the Dodgers tradition and the people that came before me. So, for ownership to entrust me going forward is everything. I’m just one of the caretakers for this organization and I hold that with high responsibility.”

April 14, 2022. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts heads toward first base against the Cincinnati Reds. The Dodgers defeated the Reds, 9-1. Photo by Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

Naysayers will talk about how the Dodgers have had one of the highest payrolls in the league every season since Roberts took over the ballclub, but someone still has to manage those players.

Talented teams miss the playoffs all the time in baseball. Roberts has done an excellent job of integrating sound judgment in flipping the right players in and out of the lineup and keeping those individuals together each and every year. That means massaging egos and interjecting the correct personnel in ballgames.

Lauded as a coach that builds chemistry throughout the entire roster, the room full of All-Stars in the Los Angeles clubhouse has always seemed to get along since Roberts took over in 2016. That includes holding the team together last season to still win 106 games while their star offseason signee Trevor Bauer was facing league punishment for off-the-field issues.

In his seven years of managing the Dodgers, Roberts has guided the team to 100 plus wins three times (2017, 2019, 2021) and has posted over 500 victories.   

Managing a team with high expectations is great, but it also presents challenges. Every postseason move Roberts make is put under a microscope by fans and analysts with astronomical expectations for the team.

Each time the Dodgers have not won the World Series under Roberts’ guidance the season has been considered a failure, which is more than a bit unfair. Roberts has taken the Dodgers to the World Series three times (2017, 2018, 2020) during his stint with the team, before cashing in with the 2020 ballclub.  

Roberts said that pressure and expectations come with the territory of managing one of the most storied teams in baseball.

“Pressure and expectations is what you play for, it’s what you coach for, and that’s a good thing,” Roberts remarked during spring training. “I’d like to think I embrace it. I’ve also understood how to navigate it, manage it, and keep it about the Dodgers and winning baseball games.”

Roberts’ handling of Kershaw’s perfect game is the latest example of why he is the right manager for the job. Any other manager in the history of the sport would have struggled to do what Roberts did. In terms of the possibility of going on and winning another World Series, it may have been the right move.

If the Dodgers win a second title in three years, the organization and their fans will not be upset that Roberts did not stretch out Kershaw in order to have a chance at a perfect game in his first start of the season. It would be just a minor footnote in their season.

Those same fans will be happy that Kershaw was managed properly in order to give the team the best chance to win.