Blame Andrew Friedman roster construction for Dodgers collapse

What the Dodgers are doing with their pitching isn’t working.

No other conclusion can be drawn after what transpired Saturday night when their bullpen imploded in a terrifying five-run seventh inning for the San Diego Padres that erased their three-run lead and ended their 111-win season.

This can no longer be considered a small sample size since the Dodgers completed eight seasons with Andrew Friedman as their president of baseball operations.

The Dodgers have reached the postseason each of those years but won only one World Series, their lone championship in that era, won in a pandemic-shortened season unlike any before or since.

You can no longer script full-game matchups.

They can’t remove a starter if they throw well just because they chose to do so beforehand.

You can’t put your manager in a position where he has to make pitching changes after pitching changes.

Essentially, they can’t do what they did in their 5-3 loss to the Padres in Game 4 of their National League Division Series at Petco Park.

Manager Dave Roberts played a key role in the defeat, but more later on the botched execution of the team’s dubious plans.

Any review of the Dodgers’ failures begins with the organization’s overarching philosophy, implemented by Friedman, which devalues ​​starting pitching and calls for the use of an assembly line of relievers.

It’s an industry-wide trend, and it’s working—to an extent.

The Dodgers have taken this concept to extremes as their management apparatus has shown a tendency to stick to their pregame script rather than allow a starter who is performing well to put up an extra inning or two.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts watches before Game 4 of the NLDS on Saturday.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts watches before Game 4 of the NLDS on Saturday.

(Jae C Hong / Associated Press)

That came on Saturday when Roberts removed Tyler Anderson after five scoreless innings with an 86 pitch count.

That had also happened three days earlier during a Game 2 loss, when Clayton Kershaw was busted after five innings despite withdrawing the last nine hitters he faced.

When asked if he had thought about letting Anderson come back for the sixth inning, Roberts replied, “There was some deliberation, but where he was with his pitch count that came up, I just felt like we had enough.” Had arms to get through that.”

In reality, decisions about how long to stay with the starters are made before games, with Roberts consulting with the front office on the number of batters they should be facing.

Anderson was on the way, but the Brain Trust had likely decided they didn’t want Anderson proposing Juan Soto and Manny Machado a third time.

By limiting the responsibilities of his starting pitchers, Friedman has effectively encouraged his aides to cover more innings. But if every pitching change Roberts makes is an opportunity to create favorable matchups, it’s also a chance for something to go wrong. Any call to the bullpen could be a land mine.

This is the inherent danger of the scheme.

Most helpers are failed starters. For many, success is as much about defying the hitter’s ignorance as it is about their stuff.

Roberts navigated the first three games of that series without any serious errors. But Julio Urías and Kershaw threw just five innings apiece during their starts. Game 3 opener Tony Gonsolin recorded just four outs. Roberts was asked to make one selection at a time. He was bound to make some bad ones.

What happened was Game 4 with a series of errors from Roberts and the coaching staff.

Chris Martin scared the Dodgers in the sixth round and passed an infield hit to Jake Cronenworth, who promoted Brandon Drury to second base. Martin escaped the traffic jam by hitting Will Myers.

Disaster struck in the next inning.

With the Dodgers three runs ahead, Roberts put the game in the hands of Tommy Kahnle, who pitched every 12 2/3 innings during the regular season.

Kahnle passed Jurickson Profar, who finished third with a Trent Grisham single. Catcher Austin Nola rode a single in Profar.

Evan Phillips had been used in high-leverage situations like this, but Roberts suddenly decided he wanted him for the ninth inning after explaining his team didn’t need a designated closer.

Roberts instead turned to Yency Almonte, who had to give up a run-scoring double against Ha-Seong Kim. Soto followed up with a single which Nola scored, tying the result to 3–3.

Left-hander Cronenworth was two batters away, but left-hander Alex Vesia didn’t begin to warm up until Machado struck. The next batter, Drury, emerged in first place.

With Cronenworth now up front, the dugout called for Almonte to throw to first base to give Vesia more time to warm up. The mark was not passed and Almonte threw a pitch instead. it was a ball

Vesia went into the game with a 1-0 point. Soto stole second base and Cronenworth delivered a two-run single run to midfield. The Dodgers were now 5-3 behind. Her season was almost over.

Whatever the state of their pitching, the Dodgers shouldn’t have lost to the Padres. What cost them the series is that they didn’t get much production out of Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Freddie Freeman until Game 4.

Still, the loss showed the Dodgers never had the pitching to win a World Series. Their model was not sustainable.

The Dodgers could have beaten the Padres like that. They might even have beaten the Philadelphia Phillies that way. But the Houston Astros?

Injuries give Friedman an alibi.

Walker Buehler was at a Fox studio in Los Angeles on hiatus for the season while recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery. One-time Cy Young Award nominee Gonsolin suffered a late-season injury that relegated him to an abbreviated start in a Game 3 loss. Dustin May also went under late in the season, putting him in a relief role.

Nonetheless, this winter should be a time of reflection for the front office. Friedman and his lieutenants must look beyond proprietary data. You also need to look at the obvious numbers. They have to count the number of championships they lost.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-10-15/dodgers-hernandez-game-4 Blame Andrew Friedman roster construction for Dodgers collapse

Emma Bowman

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