At 1:27 a.m. on Saturday, just shy of an hour after the seven-hour, 20-minute marathon of Game 3 ended, the Dodgers made a curious announcement about Game 4 of the World Series.
“The Dodgers’ World Series Game 4 starter is now TBD,” the announcement read.
The email was sent after manager Dave Roberts spoke with reporters, and after Rich Hill, the scheduled starter for Game 4, caught a ride home from the ballpark with Clayton Kershaw. Hill spoke inside the clubhouse as if he expected to pitch in Game 4.
An explanation for the change likely resided in the uncertainty expressed by the Red Sox. Boston manager Alex Cora would not commit to a starter for Game 4. The pitcher on the schedule, Nathan Eovaldi, had thrown six innings in the 18-inning slog of Game 3, before giving up a walkoff homer to Max Muncy.
With Eovaldi unavailable, the Red Sox will have to sift between Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez or Chris Sale. Pomeranz had a 6.08 earned-run average during the regular season, and has not made a start since Aug. 7. Rodriguez pitched as a reliever in Game 3. And Sale would be operating on short rest after starting Game 1.
The uncertainty likely led the Dodgers, who enjoy gamesmanship almost as much as the games themselves, to remove Hill from the board. But Hill is still the most likely choice to pitch on Saturday. He is well-rested, unlike Kershaw, who would be pitching on short rest for the first time since 2016. And after 18 innings of work on Friday, it would be foolhardy for the Dodgers to attempt to run a bullpen game.
So Hill is still expected to get the baseball in Game 4. It might not be official until Boston reveals their own choice.