Bill Baer

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 15:  Manager Dave Roberts #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on from the dougout during the seventh inning of a MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 15, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Dave Roberts was right to remove Rich Hill in the midst of a perfect game


On Saturday night against the Marlins, Dodgers lefty Rich Hill flirted with perfection. He was perfect through seven innings until manager Dave Roberts opted to remove him as a safety precaution. Reliever Joe Blanton took the hill in the eighth and allowed a two-out single to Jeff Francoeur to end the bid for a perfect game (and a no-hitter). Ultimately, Hill set 21 consecutive batters down on nine strikeouts while throwing 89 pitches.

Roberts explained his thought process for removing Hill and it had everything to do with the veteran’s nagging blister, ESPN’s Doug Padilla reports. The Dodgers acquired Hill from the Athletics ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline on August 1, but he had been sidelined since mid-July with the blister issue. He wouldn’t make his Dodgers debut until August 24, pitching six scoreless innings against the Giants. Hill wouldn’t pitch again until September 3, when he blanked the Padres over six. With an extra day of rest, Hill started Saturday, the first time he made two starts within six days of each other since July 2 and 7.

The Dodgers are nursing a four-game lead over the Giants in the NL West. We’ve seen larger leads vanish with less time remaining in the season, all you have to do to verify that is ask the 2007 or ’08 Mets. Though the club recently got Clayton Kershaw back, the Dodgers have been ravaged all season by injuries. They need a healthy Hill to have their best shot at success in the postseason.

Every pitch a pitcher throws is progressively riskier than the last. Each successive pitch requires more effort. There’s no magic number where the pitch reaches a risk apex — it’s a neverending upward trend — but when looking at a range of pitches, such as 90 to 120 for Hill who has been anything but a paragon of health over his career, it’s reasonable to conclude that the risk of exacerbating a recent injury outweighs the feat of throwing the 22nd perfect game in the modern era, especially for the team in the middle of a pennant chase.

Dave Roberts made the right call. It’s not the first time he’s made such a tough decision and nor is it likely to be the last. Ross Stripling threw 7 1/3 hitless innings on 100 pitches against the Giants on April 8, but Roberts chose to lift him from the game because the right-hander had gone through Tommy John surgery.

Athletics release Billy Butler

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 29:  Billy Butler #16 of the Oakland Athletics hits a two-run single in the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at the Coliseum on May 29, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Athletics have released 1B/DH Billy Butler. The news doesn’t come as any surprise, as Butler has underperformed in both of his years with the A’s and was recently involved in a clubhouse altercation with teammate Danny Valencia in which Butler ended up suffering a concussion.

Speaking to the media on Sunday, Butler said he doesn’t believe his altercation with Valencia affected the club’s decision to release him, per Slusser.

The Athletics signed Butler, 30, to a three-year, $30 million contract in November 2014. He put up a pedestrian .713 OPS in 2015 and a .733 OPS this season. In 242 trips to the plate this year, , Butler hit only four home runs and knocked in 31 runs. 60 of the 80 times he reached base, he did it via a single or a walk.

As Butler’s playing time has waned, the Athletics have been using Khris Davis, Stephen Vogt, and Bruce Maxwell in the DH spot.

Butler has one year and $10 million remaining on his contract. The Athletics will be responsible for covering it.

Video: Kolten Wong homers after Junior Guerra called for a balk

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 11:  Kolten Wong #16 of the St Louis Cardinals hits an RBI single in the second inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 11, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Here’s something you don’t see every day. With a runner on first base and two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning of Thursday night’s game against the Cardinals, Brewers starter Junior Guerra was called for a balk on an 0-2 pitch to Kolten Wong. Wong still smashed the pitch out to right-center for a home run, cutting the Brewers’ lead to 5-3.