If you read me regularly, you know I’m not a big second-guesser. But as Clayton Kershaw warmed up to enter Wednesday night’s decisive game of the World Series, I kept asking my television set the same question.
If the best pitcher in the sport is available to pitch the most important game your team is going to play since the 1980s, why wasn’t he on the mound to start the game instead of a confidence-shaken Yu Darvish?
Sure, that’s easy to ask now, but everybody saw how Darvish responded to World Series pressure in his first start. Kershaw wasn’t invincible in his previous start either, but he’s the man in the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation.
Wouldn’t be asking that question if he had come in to get the final out of the ugly, game-breaking second inning and then made a quick exit. But he pitched four scoreless innings and said before Game 7 that he could go further than that.
This wasn’t the first time manager Dave Roberts made a questionable decision over the past week. Pulling Rich Hill after four good innings in Game 2 forced him to use eight relievers in a game the Dodgers lost in 11 innings, which seemed to put them in a fix when Roberts had to go to the bullpen five times after Darvish blew up in the second inning of Game 3.
The Dodgers managed to split Games 3 and 4 anyway, but they used 14 relievers in the three games in Houston and would use closer Kenley Jansen six times in the series, including the ninth inning in Game 4 when they were up by five runs.
In three of Jansen’s six outings, he pitched multiple innings and ended up with a blown save and a loss to go with his two saves.
I wrote here after Game 2 that both Roberts and Astros manager A.J. Hinch were going bullpen crazy.