Cubs fans are second-guessing first-year manager David Ross after he left right-hander Kyle Hendricks on the mound in the seventh inning against the Marlins, despite Hendricks having already thrown 105 pitches.
Hendricks surrendered a go-ahead three-run home run to Alex Dickerson, helping Miami claim a 5-1 Game 1 win at Wrigley Field on Wednesday to begin the first round of the MLB playoffs.
“I trusted Kyle right there,” Ross told reporters, adding that he liked the matchup with Dickerson.
David Ross said Corey Dickerson would’ve been Kyle Hendricks’ last batter, but he trusted Hendricks’ career work against Dickerson: 4-for-16; .250/.294/.375.
Ross said of going out getting Hendricks after: “That’s a tough one, tough pull. Yeah, it stinks.”
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) September 30, 2020
Knowing when to pull a starter is perhaps the toughest managerial task in baseball. It’s cost skippers their jobs.
Ross’ choice to leave Hendricks in the game might have had as much to do with his level of faith in his bullpen than belief in his starter: Cubs relievers posted a 4.38 ERA in the regular season. Jeremy Jeffress, who eventually replaced Hendricks, gave up a two-run home run to Jesus Aguilar. Pulling Hendricks earlier might not have changed the result.
Regardless of Ross’ logic, though, Dickerson’s homer damaged his credibility among particularly critical fans.
Such a strong reaction to a single misstep is the harsh reality of managing in the playoffs.