Dave Roberts standing behind Dodgers’ World Series guarantee

Dave Roberts had enough.

“This will be the last time I talk about it…” he said.

And who could blame him for Roberts talking about his pitching plans for October the way Titanic’s captain talks about the final leg of the ocean liner’s voyage.

The Dodgers won their 106th game Sunday to equal a franchise record and secure home field advantage through the National League Championship Series, but treacherous waters lie ahead.

You won’t have a Walker Buehler and you probably won’t have a Blake Treinen either.

They won’t be any closer as Craig Kimbrel was demoted to cleanup duty earlier in the weekend.

They also may not have Dustin May, who was put on the injured list last night with an unspecified back problem, or Tony Gonsolin, who won’t be able to take on a starter’s workload even if he returns.

The Dodgers could still win a World Series but suddenly look just as capable of navigating a three-and-out postseason. Consider their recent history of thriving in the regular season and being bombed in the playoffs, and it’s perfectly reasonable to expect the worst.

Roberts showed courage ahead of his team’s 4-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, but the optimism he was trying to convey was betrayed by the tone of his voice and the lack of his trademark smile.

When the seventh-year manager guaranteed a World Series win on a national radio program during spring practice, he made the promise conditional on the health of his pitchers.

When asked if his pitching staff was so exhausted that his guarantee was now void, Roberts replied, “I’m not voiding it. I still believe that regardless of what happened to our pitching this year, we have enough talent to prevent runs.”

He added, “Thanks for asking.”

The last time I heard a manager or coach say something like that, Clay Helton was responding to a reporter who asked him why USC should keep him as a football coach.

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías delivers against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías delivers against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday. Urias has made 29 starts for the Dodgers this season.

(Ashley Landis/Associated Press)

So, yes, things are looking good here.

The Dodgers have reliable 1-2 starters in Julio Urías and Clayton Kershaw, but a lot of questions after that.

Roberts answered one of them, revealing that Tyler Anderson will be part of the postseason rotation.

“He deserves it,” Roberts said.

The claim is more than backed by Anderson’s numbers — a 15-4 record and a 2.52 earned run average.

But starting Anderson in a National League Division Series game isn’t what the Dodgers wanted. Anderson was behind the unpredictable May in the front office pecking order, which explains why Roberts waited until May was injured to say anything about Anderson, who started when the games really mattered.

Roberts said he didn’t envision Urias or Kershaw taking a three-day break in the postseason, meaning the Dodgers will likely turn to an assembly line of pitchers if the NLDS goes past three games to 27 outs register required to win the game May 4th could be part of such a game, as could Gonsolin and Andrew Heaney.

But May isn’t playing catch and Roberts said he didn’t know when he would return. May declined to comment.

Regarding Gonsolin, Roberts said given where he is in his recovery that the best case scenario is that he’s able to field four innings in a game.

The Dodgers also need to find someone to field the ninth inning. They have four reliable, high-leverage helpers, but none of them have extensive closer experience: Evan Phillips (three career saves), Tommy Kahnle (four), Alex Vesia (two) and Chris Martin (nine).

Roberts included the possibility of Urias or Kershaw serving relieved rather than having a bullpen session between starts.

“This will be the last time I talk about this, but when you get to Game 5 [of the NLDS]there’s all hands on deck, but before that you have many, many viable options,” he said.

Roberts sounded annoyed. He sounded like he recognized the problems. He sounded like he knew that after a grueling six-month schedule, the real season was about to begin.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-09-25/dave-roberts-dodgers-world-series-pitching-uncertainty Dave Roberts standing behind Dodgers’ World Series guarantee

Emma Bowman

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