Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Touts Clayton Kershaw As ‘Probably The Best Pitcher Of Our Generation’

While there are multiple reasons the Los Angeles Dodgers were eliminated by the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series, blame for their disappointing finish to the 2019 season has largely fallen on Clayton Kershaw and manager Dave Roberts.

Roberts has come under intense criticism for his decisions upon going into the bullpen during Game 5, with Kershaw at the crux of that. After striking out Adam Eaton to strand two runners in the seventh inning, Kershaw was sent back out to the mound in the eighth.

He surrendered back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto, tying the game. Boos rained down from the Dodger Stadium faithful as Roberts removed Kershaw from the game.

Roberts later said he understood the questions about his maneuvering but was comfortable with asking Kershaw to face the heart of the Nationals’ lineup.

“He’s a pro. He’s probably the best pitcher of our generation,” Roberts added. “For him to make himself available tonight and got us out of a big spot right there and it just didn’t work out.

“So there’s always going to be second-guessing when things don’t work out, but I’ll take my chances any day on Clayton, and it just didn’t work out right there. I just felt that the way Clayton was efficient, I feel great about running Clayton back out there for two hitters.”

When pressed further on the matter, Roberts reiterated his confidence in Kershaw. “Clayton, it’s not about analytics. It’s about, he’s one of the best pitchers in the game and for him to go out there and throw four pitches and to go back out there and get two hitters, I felt really good about that,” Roberts said.

“So it’s more of, I don’t think it was an analytic question. It’s a guy that I believe in, and I trust and it didn’t work out.”

The remarks were similar to praise Roberts heaped on Kershaw after he collected nine strikeouts over seven innings and allowed just one run to the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 6. It was part of a stretch of impressive outings from Kershaw, which helped erase the memory of his shoulder trouble from Spring Training.

“Clayton, this guy is the best pitcher of our generation,” Roberts said at the time. “To count him out or think he can’t do something, you’re not going to hear it from me. I think the thing is for us is just making sure that we keep him healthy, and that credit goes to him and the training staff, strength and conditioning staff.

“He’s curtailed some stuff as far as his workout regimen but the mindset, the will, the desire, compete, there’s just no parallel.”

Despite the encouraging campaign Kershaw put together, both he and Roberts will head into the 2020 season facing more skeptics than previous years because of their latest stumble in October.