Dodgers Dugout: Recapping the Game 4 loss

Rich Hill is removed from the game by Dave Roberts.
(David J. Phillip / AP)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I’ve about had it with these ridiculous pitching changes.

The World Series

Let me see if I have this straight. Rich Hill is pitching a beautiful ballgame. He has given up one hit and walked two through six innings. Your team has just taken a 4-0 lead and the crowd is rocking after a Yasiel Puig three-run homer. Hill walks the first batter in the top of the seventh, then he strikes out Eduardo Nunez, a right-handed hitter.

It’s Hill’s seventh strikeout of the night. Great, I think to myself, there’s a left-hander up next, so Hill will pitch to him. But, for some reason, Dave Roberts decides to go bring in Scott Alexander, who the Dodgers had so much faith in they left him off the NLCS roster. This makes absolutely no sense. Hill looked great. You let him go at least one more batter. Why take out a left-hander who is pitching great to bring in a different left-hander?


Alexander walks the hitter, Brock Holt, on four pitches. Great, just great. A right-hander is coming up, so a new pitcher comes in. Let’s see. Could it be Pedro Baez, who has been lights out? (Yes, I know he pitched two innings the night before, but so did Kenley Jansen and they had no problem bringing him in.) Could it be Kenta Maeda?

Could it be Dylan Floro? Could it be … wait, who is that walking in to the game? Ryan Madson? The same Ryan Madson who was a huge part of the losses in Games 1 and 2? The same Ryan Madson who told reporters he has been unable to locate his slider where he wants? The same Ryan Madson who was horrible all season, for two different teams? Yes. It’s that Ryan Madson.

Madson gets Jackie Bradley Jr. out. Then, Madson grooves one to Mitch Moreland, who hits it over the right-field fence to quiet the stadium, end the momentum and put the Red Sox back in the game.

All because you have no faith in Rich Hill, who is getting $16 million a year and had given up only one hit in six innings.

There is only one logical explanation for this. At some point this season, Roberts must have bumped his head, and the blow has caused serious short-term memory problems. Because there is no rational reason a manager would bring in a pitcher who has been bad all season in that situation.

And that’s where the game was lost. Yes, I know the Red Sox went on to score six more runs, and that every reliever failed, and that there’s no guarantee that Hill would have done better. But removing Hill for no understandable reason started the chain of events.

I will go with the pitcher who has given up one hit in six innings over the pitcher not good enough to be on the NLCS roster, and the pitcher who has failed time and time again.

It’s one thing if the Dodgers get beat because the other team outplays them. It’s an entirely different matter for the Dodgers to get beat because the manager and the front office can’t lift their heads out of their laptops long enough to pay attention to what is going on.

I love analytics. They are extremely useful and I would rely on them heavily if I was running a team. But you have to wake up and pay attention. Madson himself said his pitches weren’t behaving like they should. The computer doesn’t know that. But a manager should. He should pay close attention to what the numbers tell him, but he should also pay some attention to what his own pitchers tell him.

I don’t blame him for bringing Jansen in for the eighth. He’s your closer, and though he has been erratic, he is still a top closer. And even if Baez came into the game in the eighth, that just means Jansen probably gives up the homer in the ninth.

This game, and yes, probably this series, was lost with the indefensible decision to remove Rich Hill. Just like Game 2 in last year’s World Series.

But here’s the thing for everyone calling for Roberts to be fired immediately. Roberts gets a lot of his marching orders from the front office. A lot of “Here’s what should be done in this scenario, and in this scenario …” A new manager is not going to change things that much. So please direct some of your anger to Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi.

They can all share the blame for the Game 4 loss. Maybe their computers can tell them what percentage blame each person should receive.

By the way, after the game even the Red Sox were saying how relieved they were that Hill was removed.

Forgive me for going off on a rant. I wonder what Caleb Ferguson is doing right now?

And yes, I still say Dodgers in six. (That’s humor to alleviate the crushing frustration).

Not to get lost in the shuffle

If Clayton Kershaw starts Game 5 today as expected, it could very well be the last time we see him in a Dodger uniform. Yes, he has been erratic in the postseason, but there is no denying he is one of the greatest pitchers in Dodger history. When he comes out of the game, he deserves a standing ovation.

Unless Madson replaces him. Because I figure the crowd will storm the field if that happens.

World Series schedule

Game 5: Sunday, 5 p.m., Red Sox (David Price) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw). TV: Fox

Game 6*: Tuesday, 5 p.m., Dodgers (TBA) at Red Sox (TBA). TV: Fox

Game 7*: Wednesday. 5 p.m., Dodgers (TBA) at Red Sox (TBA). TV: Fox

*-if necessary. All times Pacific.

Shameless plug

We have eight top reporters covering Dodgers playoff games for The Times: Andy McCullough, Jorge Castillo, Bill Plaschke, Dylan Hernandez, Bill Shaikin, Maria Torres, Tom Hoffarth and Blake Richardson. If you are not checking out our website and reading their stories, you are missing out on some great stuff. So, what are you waiting for? Click here and start reading.

And if you aren’t near a TV or radio to monitor each game, I’m doing live updates for The Times every game. You can find them here.

And finally

Here’s a 10-minute video of cute puppies that will make you feel better. Watch it here.

Listen to the latest edition of our new sports podcast “Arrive Early, Leave Late,” with insights on the World Series, LeBron James and the NFL.

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.