Remember back in April, when Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled Ross Stripling 7 1/3 innings into a no-hitter (and his first career start)? The no-hitter and game were subsequently lost, and Roberts' managerial career was off to a substandard start.
That scene didn't quite repeat itself on Saturday, but Roberts will again face scrutiny for his decision to pull a pitcher pursuing history. This time, Roberts removed Rich Hill after seven perfect innings versus the Marlins -- this despite Hill having thrown just 89 pitches. In came Joe Blanton and, a few batters later, out went the perfect-game bid, thanks to Jeff Francoeur:
As it turns out, Roberts had reasons beyond being The Grinch for his decision:
Roberts said there was "heat" on Hill's finger, a sign of the blister resurfacing.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) September 11, 2016
Reasonable folks can see both sides of the argument here. Hill is making just his third start since the All-Star break due to previous blister problems and hadn't topped 89 pitches in a start. There was no sense pushing him to the point where a blister developed -- not when the Dodgers had a 5-0 lead with six outs to go, and not when Hill is needed for the postseason.
At the same time, perfect game opportunities don't come around often. Hill, 36, is unlikely to ever be six outs away again. You'd like to say the important thing is the Dodgers won the game, but that was likely anyway. Giving Hill a chance to finish what he started with the bullpen warming just in case probably would've been the most practical play -- though, granted, it's easy to say that in retrospect and without skin in the game.
Two other notes worth knowing here: 1. Hill's effort came a day after the 51st anniversary of Sandy Koufax's perfect game -- still the only one in Dodgers history -- and 2. Hill has yet to allow a run in 19 Dodgers innings. So at least he's perfect in that regard.