Rich Hill was Angry When Lifted (me too), but Dave Roberts was Right (this time)

Dodgers starting pitcher Rich Hill was cruising through five innings in last night’s second game of the NLCS. He was losing, 1-0, after surrendering a solo home run in the top of the fifth, but he was in command of his pitches, especially his devastating curve ball, and up until that one mistake which gave a one-run lead to the Chicago Cubs, he was in command of the game.

Then Dave Roberts let Hill know he wouldn’t be batting second in the Dodgers’ half of the inning. Hill’s night was over; he was being lifted for a pinch hitter. Broadcast images showed Hill angrily tossing a water cup against the dugout wall. It’s unknown if he was that visibly angry because he was being taken out of the game, or if the pinch hitter was useless Curtis Granderson.

At the time I was just as upset as Hill (and for both reasons). The teams were only separated by one run, the Dodgers’ offense had just knocked Jon Lester off the mound, and they were going to face the rickety Chicago bullpen. Hill was at 80 pitches, but his command was strong, and going to the Dodgers bullpen in the sixth seemed like a panic move that wasn’t needed.

As the game wore on, I came to realize Roberts was playing out a strategy for the long haul. He wasn’t looking to  push Hill for one or two more innings. Why should he? Roberts has complete faith in his bullpen, and he had fresh arms waiting in that pen for their chance. Besides all of that, just as he lifted Clayton Kershaw in game one, he pulled Hill with the thought of keeping him fresh for the next start that he will be needed for – whether that’s in an extended NLCS, or for the World Series.

Just as we’ve seen with Arizona, and now with Chicago, the team with the freshest starting rotation and the strongest bullpen should outlast the opposition. So far, that’s been the pattern. Running through two starters in the wildcard game doomed the Diamondbacks, and a hard-fought NLDS has left Cubs pitchers spent. Dave Roberts is playing the long game with his pitching staff, and he’s looking to keep all of his pitchers as fresh as possible, should the Dodgers get into the Fall Classic.

Look for the same strategy to play out if Yu Darvish can keep the mojo going, and get through half the game with a lead. Roberts is showing excellent baseball strategy in this case, and his players are paying him back by rising to the occasion.

Now if only I could get him to drop that stupid idea of using Granderson, and to get Andre Ethier into the action.

Oscar Martinez

Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:

36 thoughts on “Rich Hill was Angry When Lifted (me too), but Dave Roberts was Right (this time)

  1. can any one tell me why either is not even getting to pitch hit he hits better then granderson and peterson.. and farmer and kk H
    I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHY does dave hate him

  2. Scott Andes once, when things were not going so well, lamented the lack of “work horses.” Pitchers that went 7 innings plus.

    Outside of Verlander, those days are long gone. The days of 5-6 inning runs are here.

    1. That appears to be the trend for sure. Now for teams to win, they must have 11 good pitchers because they are all going to be used and each will have to contribute effectively. The days of the guy that you never have heard of and rarely saw are gone. For the most part, the bullpen guys, for the most part, better throw some serious heat with only a few exceptions to that rule.

      BTW, you may see Kershaw getting lifted prior to him seeing the lineup for the third time, at least in the playoffs. He has been hurt in the post season when he has been asked to pitch into the 6th and 7th innings. It has worked so far, no reason to change as far as Roberts will be concerned.

    1. I thought Hill actually pitched better then Lester did.

      It is to bad he gave up that HR, because he was sharp the entire game.

      And when I saw Granderson coming in, I thought I would rather have Hill stay in th game, and sacrifice a bunt, to get out runner over.

      And Granderson did not make me change my mind about that move.

      I am glad that Turner was finally able to tie that game for us.

      Like I said on the previous thread, Granderson hasn’t done much against the Cubs or Nats this year, so his good numbers against these teams, are not recent numbers.

      I don’t know how Ethier does it, because Granderson hasn’t don’t anything, to to get the at bats he gets, as well, as the playing time he gets!

      1. I just don’t understand why the front office just can’t admit that there move didn’t work out, and give Ethier a chance, to fill in, in left.

        Because Granderson has been hitting a hundred points, below the Mendoza line, since he joined this team.

      2. Hill did pitch better than Lester. He was certainly more efficient.

        Rich Hill is giving the Dodgers exactly what they were expecting when they signed him. If he helps them win a WS this year, and he’s already done a great deal to help thus far, he’s worth every penny of that 48 million contract.

        Let’s compare the two:

        Rich Hill – 3/48 million contract
        2017 stats
        Win/Loss – 12-8
        ERA – 3.32
        xFIP – 3.88
        WAR – 2.6

        Jon Lester – 6 year/155 million
        2017 stats
        Win/Loss – 13-8
        ERA – 4.33
        xFIP – 3.85
        WAR – 2.7

        To me, and to every objective way of measuring, Hill’s looks like a really good signing. Not to beat the “I told you so” horse over and over, but the regulars here who complained bitterly about signing Hill ad nauseum should be eating crow about now.

        1. Dodger patch

          I supported the Hill signing, because he had a much higher upside, then those other pitchers, that the front office signed.

          But I must admit, when Hill couldn’t pitch at the beginning of this year, and he was having trouble with blisters, I was not so sure, at that time.

  3. Speaking of managers, while I am a Roberts fan but will not hesitate to second guess him to the best of my ability (ha!), I’m thoroughly NOT Impressed with either D-Backs’ Luvello or the Cub’s Joe Maddon. And Francona was shown up a bit this year by Girardi (whom I am not impressed with either).

    All in all, I’m very happy we’ve got Roberts, despite the fact that he’s a knucklehead and can’t see his way past a Granderson (ha ha!). More seriously, I do think the manager makes a huge difference with bullpen usage; that to me is the best barometer and whoever wins the bullpen wars should win manager of the year (which means Roberts and by that metric Mattingly should be dead last every year, and forget about Luvello his so-called closer Rodney didn’t even get a whiff in the NLDS).

    1. Roberts has more guts than DM had because he is willing to remove Kershaw and Hill from games because he realizes the team winning the game is more important than the players feelings. The HR bug continues to plague our starters. None of them seem immune. If Roberts can finally realize that Granderson is worthless, especially as a PH, then he will be a lot smarter than he is today. Ethier deserves to be out there. I would play him EVERY game over both Granderson and Hernandez.

    2. YF

      I agree with everything you said!

      I have been a big Roberts supporter from the beginning, but like you, I don’t always agree with some of the things he does.

      But I think Roberts and his coaches, are responsible for changing the mentality of the players, and the team.

      Because Roberts and his coaches, have more contact then anyone, with the players, during the season.

  4. Lots of articles on Morrow today. He deserves it.

    Someone should put up a video showing Brandon Morrow and Carl Edwards side by side. Even when Edwards was striking out our guys with nasty fastballs and sliders, he just looked … vulnerable. Whereas Morrow just looks wide eyed and crazy, like Werth and Pence’s weird baby times two (or five). When he comes into the dugout I swear only Roberts dares to gives him a high five or a pat on the back. Austin’s Barnes just politely steps aside to let him walkw all down the steps first after a 9 pitch 3 put inning – it’s hilariously creepy. What monster are we growgetting Ng here? He has that stone cold batcrazy look (I recall the movie Cinderella Man where Russell Crowe picks himself up off the mat a bloody mess and smiles at the opponent, knowing that he’s seen it all including having to put his kids and his wife through the Great Depression with a broken hand and no job). Lord helps anyone who’s going to stand in the way of Brandon Morrow this postseason …

    1. Edwards did the big no no of giving the Dodgers bulletin board fodder as he said yesterday that the Cubbies would tie the series before you know it. Amazing the cockiness of some of these athletes. Maybe they will, no one knows until you play the game, but there is also the chance you shoot your mouth off and your team loses game 3 and now you are down 3-0. Better to just not say nothing and play the game.

      1. Yeah, and for me “everything would be tied up before you know it” means the number of World Series titles in the last 2 years …

          1. The mistake the Cubs are making, by saying they can come back, like they did last year.

            This Dodger team, is not the same team, the Cubs faced, last year!

  5. I wonder if Roberts is told to play Granderson, hoping he gets enough hits to justify the trade. If I was Ethier I would be pissed.

    1. You know those silly SABR guys. If a guy who bats .100 goes 0 for 9 then “He’s Due!!”. (Never mind that he could be “due” for two hits after 0-18, or 3 hits after 0-27, etc., etc. … exhibit 1 being Logan Forsythe … sometimes I think I am better at math than these SABR geeks ….)

      Us old timers would just say: a guy who bats .100? He sucks. Next.

      1. Somehow relying on the Monte Carlo Fallacy is the very antithesis of SABR statistical analysis. I really hope you were being facetious with that comment.

    2. Doc has been saying for the last two months that he has faith that Granderson will find it. Sorry, the only thing he has found is the big blank space when he swings his bat. That he even hit a ground ball the other day was shocking. Ethier is the total team pro. He said nothing when he was disrespected by DM a couple years ago, and he has said nothing about his lack of chances this year. He has class. The FO has none.

      1. I don’t understand how Roberts making the decision to start Granderson indicates the FO has no class?

        Ethier is old and hasn’t played in two years, and was in decline before he even broke his leg. So, what you’re saying is that an extremely high leverage pinch hitting appearance in the NLCS is the time to give an injured and aging vet his Spring Training at bats? Ethier has barely had any at bats.

        The objective is the win. Yes, it would be a nice storybook ending to Ethier’s tenure as a Dodger to go out and play in the playoffs and contribute, but think about what you’re saying.

        Where is the evidence that Ethier is a total team pro and Granderson isn’t. Is this the same Ethier seen on TV cursing out his manager when his manager had the temerity to tell him he had a terrible at bat in a key game in the playoffs? Class my ass.

        You know who has class? Who is the consummate professional? ….Yasmani Grandal. ….lol

        1. Grandull may have class but he certainly has no consistency and has trouble catching the ball. Not only is Barnes a better hitter he is a much better defensive catcher. Grandull doesn’t pass the eye test.

          If I recall correctly, Ethier has been fairly productive since coming off the DL, we aren’t asking him for a full season of accomplishment, we are asking for a post- season of accomplishment. Reddickson doesn’t even give an at bat of accomplishment and he is a lousy outfielder. Give me Ethier’s defense over Reddickson’s everyday all day. Ethier gives you better at bats, he doesn’t strike out a lot and Reddickson does strike out a lot, useless outs.

          Darvish is going to be a demon tonight.

        2. Simply my opinion. I do not like those guys and I never have. The way Ethier is treated is one reason. Yeah, I know he has been injured, but he is the ultimate team player. He has sat there and watched them play a guy who can’t him my granny and she is dead and he has not said a word. Far classier than anyone in the FO in my mind. And Grandal has class? On what assumption to you base that? He definitely cannot hit consistently and his defensive skills are highly over rated.

          1. So, he’s old, injured, hasn’t played in two years and is ineffective, but he should play because he hasn’t publicly complained about not playing because he’s old, injured, hasn’t played in two years and is ineffective? And the FO is morally suspect and not very good human beings because they don’t insist the manager play for purely sentimental reasons an old, injured and ineffective player who hasn’t played in two years? Your logic I find highly nonsensical.

            I think not publicly complaining about his own personal playing time to the detriment of the team should be standard professional behavior for any player. The simple absence of unwarranted complaining does not, in my opinion, indicated a higher level of “class.”

            Why do I think Grandal has class? Well, just look at him! Look at that placid demeanor when he takes the field or is sitting in the dugout! Look at the way he walks with such stoicism to take his position behind the plate. He should have complained bitterly when Barnes started instead of him, but he bit his lip and kept silent, indicating true class. I can just tell.

            ….The only reason I even brought up Grandal is because you have an irrational dislike for him and I wanted to get a reaction out of you.

        3. Of course you don’t understand it.

          Because it makes no sense.

          People love to make up stuff about:
          Momentum, class, chemistry, grit, “playing the game the right way.”

          It’s all silly and unprovable.

          Ethier isn’t playing more, because the team doesn’t think or knows he can’t. He’s been injured for TWO YEARS. Granderson is playing more because the team is hoping he gets on a hot streak.

          1. I don’t think those things are necessarily silly, because they are actual phenomena, but those terms are overused, unprovable generally, and projected on to situations or people based on feelings.

            Anyone who’s watched a basketball game and seen a team go on a run where the opposing coach has to call a time out can gather that momentum is a thing, which is related to chemistry, both of which are related to psychology, both individually and collectively.

            Class is dependent on a value judgement based in large part on your personal like or dislike for that person. Unwritten rules are value judgments based on an individuals feelings about tradition or codes of conduct.

          2. Momentum is a good start.

            Chemistry is a 3 game win streak.

            Neither are psychological.

            Of course there are good team-mates and obtuse ones. Goofballs, and serious players.

            Whether they actually make a difference is dubious to me.

  6. It Ethier is fully healthy he should be playing over Granderson at this point. If he’s only a pinch hitting late game replacement option then the only scenario that justifies batting Granderson for Hill is saving Ethier for a better situation (runner on second/third). When Utley batted I thought he would strikeout or ground out to 2B.

  7. EITHER has two home runs two double since his short time pitch hitting ..and the guy who said is old dont even know what he is talking about ….granderson look s like he is trying to walk every time he is up to bat..take the pitch down the middle the swing at something you cant even hit.

    1. Bingo. They forget Ethier has outplayed Granderson even in his limited time. There is no sentiment involved playing Ethier over Granderson.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)