So the question now is whether Roberts can turn the necessity of his bullpen use into his very own identity.
“Well I think that obviously with the young players we had and some of the injuries we had, and certain games that were performance driven, changes needed to be made in game, as far as going to the pen,” Roberts said, refuting the suggestion that the heavy bullpen usage was a part of his master plan.
“But I do believe and I am aligned Sammy Watkins Authentic Jersey with our front office in the sense that there are certain spots in each individual game that can really affect an outcome. So to have an advantage hitter versus pitcher makes sense and it is something I know that I believe in.”
A versatile bench allowed Roberts to carry an extra reliever most of the season and the roster alignment was not wasted. In addition to the 3.35 ERA from Seantrel Henderson Authentic Jersey the bullpen, the group also recorded 633 strikeouts, also tops in the majors.
Most amazing of all is that the only reliever with a set role all season was closer Kenley Jansen. Guys such as Joe Blanton (a team-leading 75 appearances), Pedro Baez (73 appearances) and lefty Adam Liberatore (Dodgers record 28-appearance scoreless streak) pulled their weight. Liberatore was finally slowed by injury. Rookie Grant Dayton emerged to take Liberatore’s left-handed innings.
Roberts characterized his extreme use of the bullpen more of a necessity than an identity. Starters were hurt, including staff ace Clayton Kershaw, and finding length from whoever remained proved difficult.
Roberts resembled a conductor each night, working his orchestra from the podium of the pitching mound. Left arm up for rhythm, right arm up for tempo.
It helped Roberts conduct music to the tune of the National League Manager of the Year Award, an honor he received Tuesday. He became the first Dodgers manager to win the honor since Tommy Lasorda (1983, ’88).
Lasorda was also known for his bullpen usage, but in his case it was more the longevity he got from a pitcher each night, not necessarily liberal use. Roberts used his group of relievers like no other manager in baseball history.
His 606 pitching moves this season were an MLB record, getting a big league-leading 590? innings from the group. And Roberts managed it all to a 3.35 ERA from his bullpen, second best in baseball. The relievers helped the Dodgers to ultimately complete 46 comeback victories, second most in the game to the Texas Rangers’ 49.
And the bullpen usage only got more extreme in the postseason, as Roberts leaned heavily on the relievers, taking the club two games from the World Series.
Ross Stripling no-hit bid: April 8 at Giants
Roberts made headlines early in the season, removing rookie Ross Stripling from a game with a no-hitter intact through 7? innings. The Dodgers led 2-0, but the next batter hit a game-tying two-run HR and the Giants won in the 10th. But Stripling was on the heels of Tommy John surgery and had made just one spring training start. Roberts’ caution paid off: Stripling pitched for the Dodgers into the postseason.