The lights may be a little brighter and the tension and pressure will be more palpable, but Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will remain consistent in the message he delivers as the team embarks on a fourth consecutive postseason run as National League West champions.
“It’s a series, but you have to win one at a time. That’s going to be my message to the guys,” Roberts said this week. “What’s reassuring is that’s what we’ve done all year long. It’s easier to tell the guys to do what we’ve done all year, instead of now to ramp it up or focus more.”
Dating back to the start of their four straight division titles, Los Angeles only advanced beyond the NL Division Series in 2013.
Last year’s first-round exit was met with sweeping changes as Roberts replaced Don Mattingly as manager and brought with him an overhauled coaching staff.
Roberts and his coaches encountered several challenges, namely setting a Major League record with 28 different players put on the disabled list.
Without Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers at one point found themselves eight games back of the San Francisco Giants for first place in the NL West. To a man, everyone in the organization has credited Roberts with keeping a positive moral and the clubhouse focused on the task at hand.
The Dodgers followed his guidance, and their depth, mentality and relentless is what has Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner, among others, believing this year’s club is an improved version when compared to the previous NL West-winning renditions.
For Roberts, succeeding in postseason baseball requires what the Dodgers did throughout the regular season. “With October baseball, it’s the teams that execute who have a tendency to win more. Pitching drives the postseason but there’s also the execution and focus component,” he said.
“With our guys, all year long we talked about playing every pitch and staying focused. That’s why with this series, I like our chances. We’ve shown that we can execute when we need to and focus pitch-to-pitch. Runs are hard to come by, so it comes down to teams that are able to execute. More times than not they win.”