Roberts: Pulling Stripling from no-no easy call

Dodgers manager, later ejected, says rookie was on predetermined pitch count

April 9th, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dave Roberts, managing his fifth game, removed starter Ross Stripling from a no-hitter in the eighth inning of his Major League debut Friday night and Roberts called the decision a "no-brainer" despite the Dodgers' 3-2 loss to the Giants.

And Stripling, two years removed from Tommy John surgery, said "it was the right decision" to take him out at the 100-pitch mark after he walked Angel Pagan with one out in the bottom of the eighth with the Dodgers leading, 2-0.

Within moments, though, the Dodger had lost a two-run lead and within two innings they had lost the game on a 10th-inning walk-off homer by Brandon Crawford off Joe Blanton.

In the annals of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry, this one was right up there in the bizarre department. Roberts wasn't even around for the ending, having been ejected for the first time by plate umpire Jeff Kellogg for arguing balls and strikes shortly after Chris Hatcher, who relieved Stripling, was greeted by the first career home run from Trevor Brown.

"The most pitches he threw in the spring was 78, he's coming off Tommy John surgery, he threw only 70 innings last year and 100 pitches was our number," Roberts explained.

"For me, the bigger question, I was contemplating whether to send him out for the eighth with 91 pitches. Once I sent him out for the eighth, we're still trying to win a game, and keeping his health and future in mind, the decision was if somebody gets on base we go to Hatch. If he wouldn't have had a no-hitter, he wouldn't have started the eighth inning. For me, it was a no-brainer."

Roberts said that he, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, the front office and the medical staff were in pregame agreement that Stripling would be limited to 100 pitches, although Stripling was never told.

Roberts said he noticed Stipling's velocity "down a little bit" in the seventh inning. He said it would have taken a clean eighth inning with no more than six pitches for Stripling to be sent out for the ninth and a chance to become the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter in his debut since Bumpus Jones of Cincinnati in 1892.

Stripling is now the eighth pitcher since 1913 to throw seven or more innings and allow an earned run without allowing a hit.

Roberts complimented Stripling's four-pitch mix, which was a big reason why the 26-year-old was named the fifth starter over late candidates Zach Lee and Carlos Frias after Spring Training injuries to Brandon Beachy and Mike Bolsinger put the job up for grabs.

"He's got weapons," said Roberts. "We talked about his makeup, his head. He doesn't scare off. We knew he'd give us a chance to win."

Roberts' ejection was the culmination of several innings of complaints from the dugout about balls and strikes. When Hatcher had words with Kellogg, Roberts took up the argument and was ejected.

"Hatch wasn't happy with the call and you can see A.J. [Ellis] having a back and forth and I've got to go out there and see what's going on and protect my players," Roberts said. "We need those guys in the game."