"I feel sick to my stomach. I'm going to lose sleep tonight, and I probably should" - Dave Roberts
Dave Roberts is the only rookie manager in baseball this year, and last night may have made a rookie decision by pulling veteran Rich Hill during his bid for perfection. Rich Hill had thrown just 89 pitches through seven perfect innings, striking out nine batters, nonetheless Roberts made the move for righty Joe Blanton. Roberts says that the decision was based off of concern about the blister on Hill's finger (Hill has missed significant time on two separate occasions in 2016, due to this blister), but Hill claims it was not a problem at all last night. The Dodgers training staff checked the blister extensively between each inning, and despite Hill assuring them there was no issue, Roberts made the decision to pull him. You can certainly cut Robert's some slack due to the fact that he is a rookie manager and this is without a doubt the hardest choice he has made so far in his managerial career, but you Hill is 36 and the chances of a second shot at perfection for him are almost non-existent. As always is the case with any player or coach, the end goal is the World Series, and that is where Roberts bases his decision. Roberts thought that the risk of the blister becoming a problem and causing Hill to miss more time, and possibly even the playoffs, was too big a risk, and they needed to turn it over to the bullpen. Joe Blanton would get the first two outs of the 8th before giving up a single to Jeff Francoeur, and the shot at history was gone. Hill was clearly upset about being pulled, as he argued his case in the dugout, and told the media "No. I didn't notice it" when asked if the blister area had started to get tender (As Dave Roberts suggested).
Roberts stuck by his decision when talking to the media on Sunday morning -
"We've talked about the 'team-first' from the beginning of Spring Training, and for me to put any one player's individual success -- as amazing and great as it would have been -- ahead of the team to potentially compromise our goal, I think I would lose credibility, Dodgers fans are really upset with me, and I get it. But true Dodgers fans understand that my responsibility is to the team and the organization."
"There might be some managers that let it play out, but for me, nothing is at the risk of the team's success, especially at this point in the season, If it was early in the year, I would have let him go back out."
"Richie said the blister wasn't affecting him, and that was true, he was throwing well, Talking to the trainer, the blister -- from a medical viewpoint -- and he sees tenderness, those are symptoms that the trainer, as he's gotten familiar with Rich and the blister, the next step is a blister that presents itself. Knowing that, what the usage is and what it's taken as far as extra rest between starts and knowing he's on regular rest his next two starts, with the information given and what my eyes told me, that was the decision."
"We won a baseball game, that's the most important thing. Sometimes, a lot of us want our cake and eat it too. A perfect game would have been great, but in my opinion, it wasn't going to happen as far as risk versus reward."