Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Clayton Kershaw was nothing short of spectacular in his 2022 regular season debut against the Minnesota Twins as he retired all 21 batters faced and collected 13 strikeouts.
The left-hander was at 80 pitches and only six outs away from throwing the 24th perfect game in MLB history before being removed by Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
The decision immediately sparked debate on social media amongst baseball pundits, current and former players, and fans alike. It was familiar territory for Roberts, who previously pulled Rich Hill from a start against the Miami Marlins in 2016 after throwing seven perfect innings.
According to Stats LLC, Roberts is part of MLB history as Kershaw and Hill are the only pitchers to ever be taken out of a start after getting through seven perfect innings.
In both instances, Roberts had logical reasons to remove Kershaw and Hill from their respective perfect game bids. Kershaw of course missed the entire postseason last year due to left forearm discomfort and did not resume throwing until January.
The shortened Spring Training also hindered Kershaw’s ability to fully ramp up before the regular season. He was slotted fifth into the Dodgers Opening Day rotation so he could build his pitch count in a simulated game last week before facing an opponent.
As for Hill, Roberts removed him as a precaution due to his previous blister issues during the 2016 season. “I get it. Obviously I didn’t want to come out of the game,” Hill said at the time.
“But I think there’s a bigger picture here, and we all know what it is. It’s something that put Dave in a very difficult position. You look at it and you move on. That’s all you can do. We’re in the middle of this race right now, so just continue to move forward. That’s the best way I can put it.”
Kershaw: Roberts made ‘the right choice’
While he would have preferred to remain in the game, Kershaw reiterated he not yet is fully stretched out and said Roberts made “the right choice.”
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