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Dodgers: What Are The Biggest Challenges Ahead for Dave Roberts?

The Dodgers are going to have a different look and feel in 2023. Coming off a 111-win season, you would think a team wouldn’t have to make a lot of changes to their approach. However, the Dodgers’ disappointing exit in the NLDS led them to an interesting offseason, where they said goodbye to a lot of last season’s top contributors.

The Dodgers will also be welcoming in a few new players, and a ton of young prospects, as they hope to compete for a World Series again in 2023. And one person will be in charge of making all this work, and that’s the team’s manager, Dave Roberts.



Roberts has received a ton of criticism over his six years with the club, but the results speak for themselves. No team has won more games than the Dodgers since Roberts’ first year in 2016, and it’s not even close. The Dodgers have won 653 games, while the Houston Astros, in second place, have won just 625.

The Dodgers have also made the postseason every year since 2016, have won the division in six of the seven years and have made the World Series in three of them, winning one in 2020.

No player has ever had any complaints with Roberts, and, at this point, he’s done things that very few managers have done.

However, this year is going to be different, and Roberts will have some challenges to overcome.

First and foremost, Justin Turner is no longer a Dodger. Turner has been with the team since 2014, and turned into the leader and voice in the clubhouse. Many around the team have also said he was Dave’s biggest supporter, and helped bridge the gap between the players and their manager. Without him there, Roberts won’t have a clubhouse voice to relay his message. He’s going to be tasked with doing it all on his own.

While that may be the biggest challenge, it’s far from the only one.

This is the first year in a while that the Dodgers enter the season not being the unquestioned favorite to win their division. While the Dodgers still very much are a threat to win the NL West, many people are picking the San Diego Padres to take the crown in 2023. Not only did the Padres oust the Dodgers from the postseason last year, but they yet again reloaded this offseason, with the acquisition of four-time All-Star Xander Bogaerts. You can’t exactly call the Dodgers underdogs this year, but it’s not like the past where it’s going to be a cake walk to the division title.

Now let’s go to the on-field challenges.

As of right now, the Dodgers don’t have a clear cut closer. Last year, it seemed as if they would enter the season without a closer, but then, right before the season began, they traded for Craig Kimbrel. While Kimbrel didn’t exactly work out, he at least gave Roberts a go-to 9th inning guy for most of the year, taking a lot of pressure off the decision of who would close out games.

Now, however, the Dodgers have a number of guys who could pitch that final frame, which will only make Roberts’ job harder. Every wrong decision he makes will only look worse, as there will always be an alternative option he could have gone to. Between Evan Phillips, Yency Almonte, Daniel Hudson, Brusdar Graterol and Alex Vesia, it may be somewhat of a carousel in the 9th inning for LA — and that doesn’t bode well for Roberts.

Finally, the last challenge that Dave faces is the fact that there are a lot of unknowns in the roster and in the lineup. Last year, it was very clear which nine players were going to start. If anything, the Dodgers had too much talent. Now, however, it’s the opposite. With all the young guys likely to play a big role, Roberts will have some tough lineup decisions each and every night.

Between Trayce Thompson, James Outman, Miguel Vargas and Miguel Rojas, who is going to get consistent playing time? Even more so, will any of them get consistent playing time, or will it be more of a platoon look? Also, how long can he stick with the young guys if they’re struggling early on in the year? These will all be questions that Roberts will have to answer, and, again, every wrong decision will only be amplified because it’s the Dodgers, and it’s Dave Roberts — people love to hate him.

The Dodgers haven’t entered a season with this much uncertainty in a while. It’ll be up to Dave Roberts to make sure everything is working, in what will be by far his toughest test as a manager at this point in his career. This will be a very important season for him to prove that he, in fact, has played a crucial role in the success of the Dodgers over the last seven seasons.

Noah Camras

Noah is an Associate Staff Writer for Dodgers Nation. He graduated from USC in 2022 with a B.A. in Journalism and minor in Sports Media Studies. He's been a Dodger fan since he was a kid, and his all-time favorite Dodgers are Matt Kemp and Russell Martin — but Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman are very quickly making a case to be on that list.

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8 Comments

  1. “…results speak for themselves. No team has won more games than the Dodgers since Roberts’ first year in 2016.”
    What a ridiculous statement. With the players the Dodgers have had during that period, a monkey as manager could have won an equal number of games. A real manager would have won far more than Roberts the Clown.

  2. Roberts biggest challenge is, not to be afraid of Friedman. And manage games by what is going on and feel, not managing 100% by Friedman book. Puppet manager has to grow some cojones and become a real manager. Have faith in your instincts.

  3. Roberts does what he is told by AF and Gomes. He is a puppet manager. Any clown could win with the lineups he has been given.

  4. I guess if a person wanted to be difficult they could also say that no team has lost more post season games than the Dodgers during Roberts tenure?
    Roberts isn’t the problem though. Especially last season.

  5. Nicely written peace about #DaveRoberts. I agree with a lot of it. Dave or DR might not be good at finishing with the #WorldSeries. However, the man has a lot of talents. Hence, great move. Picking up a coach, with managerial experience. Great move bring on more heads. DR can’t handle everything and does require help, but only to fill in for his weaknesses. His strengths, should be well defined by now. He is great at nurturing his players and creating talent that translates into guys like #Kike and #JustinTurner, #Muncy, and #CT3. Players who were struggling at times within themselves and of this kids game. Find their game in a big way, playing under #DR. That is a fact.

    This year Dodgers are bringing in a new coach. One with Managerial experience. Glad to see him back in Pacific Blue. Maybe he can help, pick up. Intuition of the game information, that DR listens to. Ideally, these two heads become better than 1. Also, Dodgers need strong communication and STRONG FORM STATS, and statistical analysis. That being said, love the Stats on #Rojas all around too. If you take a good look at his stats. He can always do strong at getting on base, not striking out, and hopefully at least 30 doubles or more and XBH over 50. He is a contributor. Especially a go to with men on base and a lead after the 6th inning. And you have an option to then also move Mookie or Busch in for Muncy. With fresh D legs at 2B. So up the middle D, 6 to 8th can become Rojas, to preserve the lead. If Lux is hitting well, move to DH. Then his job is to get on, steal, and get hit in by a double. Hopefully 2 try or more. That gets Pages or Thompson or Busch or other bat in at RF. Fresh legs bats pay off. I can see Muncy and CT3 becoming both in the MVP running and taking over leadership roles between coaches and players, picking up the slack of the void left by JT. Muncy this year. Hopefully returns to his big power stroke. High walks, over 30 hr, and over 35 doubles. RBI machine years for JD and Muncy who will have many opportunities with men on base. Lux whose major and minors career at the SS position, must improve his defense tremendously. As his play at SS show over 80 errors. That is a fact. If your are going to talk stats on line, at least know how to verify, stats, because the total errors for Lux at SS receiving pay, so minors and majors, only at SS, 81 total Lux errors. Lux is an error per 5 to 10 games. Keeping this down, will save him. But, he likely is replaced by Rojas 6, 7, or 8th inning. So there will be pressure on Lux, to be ERROR FREE. Or Muncy, can be moved to DH, later in game. For D field up the middle. Could also see CT3 sub in at SS too or 2B with Rojas. A balanced team. Some guys looking for a double others a single and homers just come. All #Dodgers need are men on base, men on base. Singles and doubles. To score runs. They have speed, as Betts, Lux, Outman should combine for over 100 steals. Plus, Vargas putting combined team steals over 125. From those 4. Then over 90 xbh for Betts if he is healthy. Hopefully both FF and JD put on a doubles clinic and battle for the lead in doubles in #MLB. As they lead the team with their bats and RBI. Betts increases his hitting percentage as do others. Especially, their hitting with men on. They beat the D. We time our SB well. DR puts on a great show! #Dodgers win 105 maybe more. Dodgers 2023 are deep and versatile. They have many moving parts and will be tough to beat.
    The biggest concern, during the season of 2022, was the fact that a strong majority of the time. Dodgers bats struggled consistently against opponents strongest pitcher or pitching performance. These guys can’t let that happen. Keep slumps down, hit. Score.

  6. Doc struggles with pitching decisions so not having a set closer could mean more criticism but it’s up to the players to execute. Decisions that don’t work out are not “wrong”; merely unsuccessful. I don’t think fans love to hate him..we tend to love to criticize him. He’s a player’s manager which tends to test the patience of fans. HIs post-season track record is worrisome but at least he gets us there.
    I would argue that Rich Hill and Caleb Ferguson do not like him…Max Scherzer as well. Tyler Anderson did not like his quick hook against the Padres as well. He’s not a great decision maker re pitching plan execution.

  7. The biggest challenge for Fraudberts is the amount of boos he will receive next year.

  8. It’s not Roberts who makes the managerial on-field decisions, it’s Andrew Friedman. My guess is Roberts would have had to consent to taking Friedman’s directions as to decision making on the field in order to become the Dodger’s manager in the first place. Friedman is the off field manager and the defacto on-field manager and his avatar, Roberts, is there to implement, rather than make, strategy. Or is my thinking wrong?

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