Dave Roberts’ “decision” to start Dustin May in Game 7 feels like it came at a very odd time for the Dodgers.
Game 7. The two most beautiful words in sports, unless you’re the Dodgers attempting to stave off elimination in a series you were heavily favored to win.
So, who’s got the ball for this one? Julio Urias? Tony Gonsolin, fully rested from Game 2? Clayton Kershaw, back fully in traction rising from a wheelchair Paul Pierce-style to take the ball? No, no and no (even though he’s supposedly available!).
No, it was opener Dustin May, who just unsuccessfully started Game 5 of this series (a pair of two-run innings). And when did May learn of Dave Roberts’ brilliant plan for his services? Oh, just about seven hours before game time. Midday. Normal stuff.
So, just so we’re clear, May has considered himself “on call” ever since his short Game 5 stint — and, really, throughout the entirety of this series. So he wasn’t shocked he had to pitch in this game, but was likely stunned to get the call for the top of the order in the very first inning.
And how’d it go? Eight straight balls and an RBI single from Marcell Ozuna. Pretty well!
Gonsolin entered in the second, and the trickeration messed with his mojo a bit, too — the first batter he faced, Dansby Swanson, deposited a home run deep into left field.
The one thing you can’t do in a decisive Game 7 is get cute. It often feels just like “playing not to lose” does. Riding all the momentum in the world, Dave Roberts opted to extinguish his own flame by messing around with the natural order of pitchers in much the same way Aaron Boone and Co. did for the Yankees in ALDS Game 2.
Remember what Dustin May did in Game 5? It wasn’t great! So why are we running it back? On such short notice?!
Nothing about this was preferable to Gonsolin simply starting the game. Captain Hindsight, sure, but the captain’s usually right.