Major-league pitchers are talented enough, and managers are cautious enough, that you rarely see a baseball game featuring a pitcher so fatigued and overmatched that he just doesn’t belong on the mound. Last night, the Dodgers and Brandon Morrow showed us what that scenario looks like.
It was clear from the first pitch—a meaty, straight fastball that George Springer sent to the part of the stadium still haunted by the ghost of Brad Lidge—that Morrow was in no shape to be pitching in this game. He’d only go on to throw five more pitches, with the following results: single, strike, double, wild pitch, home run.
So, yes, Morrow shouldn’t have been out there, but why was he? He’d pitched in all four previous games in the series, including 1.2 innings in Game 4, and manager Dave Roberts said he’d be unavailable for Game 5. It was ultimately Roberts’s call to put Morrow on the mound, but after the game Morrow told reporters that he personally advocated for himself to pitch.
“Probably selfish on my part to call down and push to let them know that I’m ready want to get in,” said Morrow.
Roberts, for his part, didn’t do much to try and pull his star reliever off his sword, telling reporters, “And he called in the middle of the game, and he said, hey, if we take the lead, I want the ball, my body feels good. So in the seventh inning, you can’t turn him down.”
There’s something to be said for a manager trusting his players, but it’s the manager’s job—perhaps his only job—to put his players in positions in which they have the best chance at success. Morrow’s done nothing but mow down batters and lock up games for Roberts all season, and he deserved better than to be thrown into the meat grinder for it.