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#pounditThursday, October 6, 2022

Dave Roberts defends himself over weird rules mistake

Dave Roberts in a Dodgers hat

Oct 7, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Robert’s (right) watches batting practice prior to game four of the 2019 NLDS playoff baseball series against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made an embarrassing gaffe Saturday that left him having to defend both his strategy and his awareness of the rules.

With the Dodgers trailing the New York Mets 9-4 in the 9th inning of Saturday’s game, Roberts attempted to bring in position player Zach McKinstry to pitch, preferring to save his actual pitchers in a game that, in Roberts’ estimation, was all but over. There was one major problem, however — an MLB rule prevents managers from using position players to pitch unless their team is either trailing or leading by six runs or more. The rule was actually added to the books for 2020, but had been suspended for the previous two seasons due to pandemic-related injury concerns.

That left Roberts, unaware of the rule, scrambling for another pitcher after umpires blocked him from making the change. As a result, the Dodgers had to quickly warm up reliever Evan Phillips to get through the final inning.

After the game, Roberts was forced to defend both his knowledge of the rules and his strategy. He took ownership of the rules gaffe, admitting not knowing about the rule was an “oversight.”

Perhaps more pertinent was the criticism Roberts received for essentially waving the white flag in a five-run game. Roberts explained that he wanted Phillips available for two innings on Sunday in a bid to take the series from the Mets.

Regardless of the strategy, it’s not a great look for Roberts. Essentially giving up in a five-run game, whatever strategy is involved, seems quite harsh. Plus, even though the rule is obscure, it’s ultimately the manager’s job to know things like this. Failing that, someone on his staff should have been aware to prevent him from taking the fall this way.

This is hardly the first time Roberts has been sharply questioned over strategy, though this one is arguably less defensible than in other cases.

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