The Los Angeles Dodgers were barred from pitching a position player during their half of the ninth inning against the New York Mets on Saturday night due to an unintentional violation of a new rule change.
Dave Roberts, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, planned to deploy utility player Zach McKinstry to record the final three outs of the 9-4 game (box score).
The Dodgers, who had already used up six relievers after Walker Buehler was yanked in the third inning of his career-shortest start, were trying to avoid further depleting their bullpen on Sunday.
Despite this, the umpires convened before crew chief C.B. Bucknor announced that McKinstry would be unable to throw.
Bucknor’s answer referred to a rule agreed upon by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association ahead of the 2020 season that would prohibit position players from pitching in games with a deficit of five runs or less unless they were designated two-way players.
Because of the pandemic and concerns regarding player health and safety, the regulation was not implemented in 2020 or 2021. The fact that the regulation is being enforced this season seemed to fly under Roberts’ notice.
“It’s a rule that obviously is in place for 2022. They were talking about it in 2020,” Roberts told the Associated Press.
“The goalposts have been moving a lot. It’s an oversight on my part, but I do recall that we did it last year. They kind of had to confer to make sure that it was the case. They got it right, the umpires.”
With the score 9-4, Roberts sent utility player Zach McKinstry to the mound to start the ninth, but he was called out by umpires. Following a lengthy wait and deliberation, umpires utilised headsets to communicate with officials in New York.
C.B. Bucknor, the Dodgers’ crew chief, declared that McKinstry would not be allowed to pitch, and right-hander Evan Phillips began warming up in the bullpen.
Roberts believed that Mets manager Buck Showalter urged that the rule be enforced, while Showalter stated that the umpires acted without his involvement.
When the umpires indicated that Phillips’ warm-up tosses needed to be moved to the game mound, bullpen coach Josh Bard jogged out of the bullpen and yelled that Phillips wasn’t ready.
Phillips was granted an unlimited amount of time to warm up, and the delay lasted approximately 11 minutes in total.
During the wait, Showalter shook his head and strode in the visiting dugout. He walked onto the field following Bucknor’s pronouncement to seek an explanation from the umpires, but subsequently stated that he was not concerned as Phillips was given ample time to loosen up!
At the end, Los Angeles ended up using seven pitchers. Phillips allowed one hit and struck out two in the ninth, and the Dodgers lost 9-4.