Down five in the ninth inning to the Mets, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts didn’t want to waste any more of his relievers, so he sent outfielder Zach McKinstry in to pitch. However, that is not allowed.
By rule, a team must be down by at least six runs to use a position player as a pitcher. Mets manager Buck Showalter caught it before McKinstry threw a pitch, and after checking with the replay review center, the umpires forced Roberts to bring in a regular pitcher.
The umpires allowed new pitcher Evan Phillips to warm up in the bullpen, something that doesn’t usually happen when a manager has to bring in a cold pitcher for non-injury reasons.
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The Dodgers used seven total pitchers vs. New York after Walker Buehler only lasted 2.2 innings, and it seems like Roberts was willing to concede to just not waste more relievers.
MLB instituted this rule before the 2020 season as a way to avoid teams giving up on games that were still somewhat in reach. More teams have been willing to use position players as pitchers while bullpens have been both deeper and used more frequently to combat shorter starts.
However, this seems to be the first time that a manager tried to circumvent the rule. The Mets won the game 9-4 after Dodgers won the first two games of the series, and the two will finish the series on Sunday afternoon.
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