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Dodgers' Roberts must go after another postseason disaster

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 4 days ago Josh Peter, USA TODAY
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LOS ANGELES — It might be heartless, rash and unfair to fire Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

And it’s time to do it.

Roberts is smart, professional and even-tempered. And he’s got to go after the ugly scene Wednesday night.

In the parking lot outside Dodger Stadium, fans were running over a Clayton Kershaw jersey after his latest postseason meltdown — giving up back-to-back homers in the eighth inning of the Dodgers’ season-ending loss.

In the clubhouse, Dodgers starter Walker Buehler was in tears after his strong 6 2/3-inning stint went for naught in a 7-3, 10-inning loss to the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series.

The place felt like a morgue.

And it’s time to end Roberts’ reign while acknowledging his accomplishments. During his four years as manager, the Dodgers have won two National League pennants, reached the National League Championship Series three times and won four National League West Division titles.

But this team should be doing more.

With the Dodgers failing to win a World Series yet again, the front office needs to shore up the bullpen. Address an aging starting rotation. But as much as that, this club needs a jolt — best accomplished by bringing in a new manager.

In a day and age when analytics rule, it’s almost comical to think of the fiery Tommy Lasorda trying to find a job. And it’s wise to remember that the expletive-loving, fiery Lasorda was the Dodgers’ manager in 1988, when they won their last World Series — with a team far inferior to the one Roberts has managed the past four seasons.

It’s fair to note that in Lasorda’s first two seasons as Dodgers manager, the team lost in the 1977 and 1978 World Series to the New York Yankees. They finally broke through three years later when they beat the Yankees in the 1981 World Series.

And then there was Bobby Cox, the former Atlanta Braves manager whose teams won division titles 14 times in 15 years between 1991 and 2005, yet won just one World Series title. His Braves lost the 1991 and 1992 World Series before breaking through three seasons later by beating the Cleveland Indians for the 1995 World Series title.

He deserves more time, Roberts’ supporters will say. He’s a scapegoat, they’ll tell you. But the Dodgers have to make a meaningful change, and it’s the quickest and most dramatic way to address falling short of expectations.

The talent is there, including two of the game's best young players in Cody Bellinger and Buehler.

Plus more talent is in the pipeline. Their NLDS roster included four rookies —  catcher Will Smith, outfielder and first baseman Matt Beaty, first baseman Gavin Lux and pitcher Dustin May — each of whom the Dodgers drafted and developed.

They set franchise records this year with 279 home runs and 106 wins. And the Dodgers have averaged more than 98 wins a year during Roberts’ four-year stint as manager.

Last year, President Donald Trump famously criticized Roberts after the Dodgers blew a four-run lead in Game 4 of the World Series. And as fans exited Dodger Stadium Wednesday night, they understandably took issue with Roberts’ pitching decisions again after the team blew a three-run lead.

But those decisions likely are made with the input of the Dodgers' front office and their always-up-to-date analytics. This is a more visceral issue — the voice and make-up and temperament of a manager when the stakes are highest.

After the game Wednesday, Roberts arrived in the interview room looking disconsolate. A reporter asked what he told his players after the game.

“Made sure that the guys understood how proud I was,’’ he said, “how they competed all year long, didn't take a day off.’’

Equally even-tempered, Kershaw said, “Spring training’s going to come, I’m going to have to be ready to pitch and do the job the best we can.’’

But the Dodgers’ best hasn’t been good enough. Given this club’s rich talent and generous payroll, it’s World Series-or-bust.

And by those standards, Roberts is a bust.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dodgers' Dave Roberts must go after another postseason disaster

Related slideshow: Best of the 2019 MLB postseason (provided by imagn)

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