The Los Angeles Dodgers returned to the World Series for a second consecutive season in 2018, but disappointingly fell short to the Boston Red Sox in five games.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was at the center of criticism for many of his in-game decisions throughout the Fall Classic, whether it be his platoon-based lineups or questionable pitching changes.
The latter came to light in Game 4 when Roberts removed Rich Hill from a gem despite having thrown only 91 pitches through 6.1 innings of work. The call backfired, as the Dodgers bullpen wound up squandering a four-run lead and an opportunity to even up the World Series.
Looking back at his start, Hill opined that decision-making in crucial postseason games should be based on efficiency rather than numbers, via Rob Bradford of WEEI:
“I think that when you get into the World Series and the postseason you can look at numbers but a lot of that stuff has to go out the window and you have to go with the guys who are obviously being efficient and just going for it. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
The seventh inning is what will ultimately be remembered when thinking back to Game 4. Hill, in the midst of a one-hit shutout, walked leadoff hitter Xander Bogaerts before bouncing back with a strikeout of Eduardo Nunez for the first out of the frame.
The 38-year-old was then replaced in favor of left-handed specialist Scott Alexander with second baseman Brock Holt due up.
Holt drew a walk, leading to Alexander’s premature exit. Ryan Madson was then called upon to escape the jam, and proceeded to retire Jackie Bradley Jr. for the second out of the inning.
With two on and two outs, Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland kickstarted an improbable rally with one swing of the bat. His three-run homer trimmed the Dodgers’ lead to 4-3, as Boston would go on to score five more runs over the next two innings to complete the comeback.
Although Roberts has developed a reputation as being too-heavily reliant on analytics, he’s maintained gut instinct play a key role in his decision-making process.