Dodgers News: NL Executive Has Change Of Opinion On Dave Roberts
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Unable to get over the hump in the postseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Don Mattingly agreed it was best to part ways after the 2015 season. Mattingly guided the club to three straight seasons with at least 90 wins, which led to three National League West titles.

The stretch of three 90-plus win seasons was accomplished by the Dodgers for the first time since 1976-78, and their three consecutive division titles was a franchise first. But rather than hire a seasoned candidate, the Dodgers tapped Dave Roberts as their next manager.

The rookie skipper inherited a talented roster but faced plenty of expectations. Roberts explained during his introductory press conference that he embraced the pressure that comes with leading the Dodgers.

What he couldn’t have predicted were the rash of injuries that depleted the roster. As a result, the Dodgers got off to a slower-than-expected start in 2016.

They went into the All-Star break 6.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West, and with ace Clayton Kershaw on the shelf due to a back injury.

While winning the division once seemed like a fading possibility, the Dodgers have stormed to the top of the NL West standings. Roberts was praised by president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi for his work in the clubhouse.

According to John Perrotto of Todays Knuckleball, Roberts’ performance swayed the opinion of an NL executive:

“I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too impressed with him early in the season,” an NL executive said of Roberts. “I thought he was a little bit overmatched and maybe a little too nice of a guy for the job but he’s really provided a real steady hand. He’s really growing into the job and he’s going to be very good at it for a long time.”

Los Angeles recently broke a Major League record by placing their 28th different player on the disabled list this season, which was previously held by the 2012 Boston Red Sox, who finished last in their division.

Along with needing to lead the Dodgers past injuries, Roberts was twice forced to make decisions with implications on history books. He pulled Ross Stripling from his MLB debut with one out in the seventh inning despite the right-hander being in the midst of a no-hitter.

Stripling took the mound that night working on a pitch count. He expressed an understanding of Roberts bringing the hook. Last weekend, Roberts pulled Rich Hill after seven perfect innings.

The first-year manager the move left him sick to his stomach, but was the best decision for the team that is entering a pennant race. Hill has dealt with nagging blisters this season.

Like Stripling, Hill also said he understood being taken out of the game. Roberts has the Dodgers closing in on a fourth straight seasons with at least 90 wins and a NL West title.

While it may translate to a Manager of the Year Award, Roberts will ultimately be judged, fairly or unfairly, on how the Dodgers fare in October.