Dave Roberts defends himself over weird rules mistake
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.”
Dave Roberts, on the confusion with the rules in the ninth: “It’s an oversight on my part.”
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) June 5, 2022
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.
I asked how waving the white flag in a 5run game with 14man pitching staff made sense: "Ideally I would have liked to have Evan (Phillips) for two (innings) tomorrow. … I’m still trying to manage to win a series and not just to keep the game close."
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) June 5, 2022
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.