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

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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.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.