Baseball's torn over Dave Roberts' decision to cut short Clayton Kershaw's perfect game

Clayton Kershaw faced a shot at baseball history on Wednesday.

He came up two innings short. Not because of his performance on the mound. But because of a decision by Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

The three-time Dodgers Cy Young winner had a chance to add a coveted line to his already illustrious résumé with a perfect game through seven innings against the Minnesota Twins. But 80 pitches into his start, Roberts pulled him, opting to prioritize Kershaw's health over a chance at the 24th perfect game in MLB history.

Decision prompts heated debate

This, of course, elicited a passionate response from the baseball community and beyond. The old school couldn't fathom Roberts' decision to deny Kershaw his shot at history just 80 pitches in. The new school that saw a then-33-year-old Kershaw miss the postseason last year with forearm discomfort took a more understanding route. As in: It's April. Let's not wreck Kershaw's arm just yet.

Others pointed out that if baseball hadn't gone through a lockout that led to a truncated spring training, Roberts might not have had to make his difficult decision. This was Kershaw's first start of the season on a 36-degree day after a shortened spring. Prior to Wednesday, his longest outing of the year was 75 pitches in a simulated game last week.

So naturally, the takes were varied, some of them hot. Even players past and present were torn.

Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde vowed that if ace John Means was perfect through seven innings, he would stay out there.

Media members, of course, had their takes. They were widely varied as well.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 13: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers prepares to pitch against the Minnesota Twins in the sixth inning of the game at Target Field on April 13, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Dodgers 7-0. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Clayton Kershaw started his season on Wednesday with a bang — and a twinge of disappointment. (David Berding/Getty Images) (David Berding via Getty Images)

What do the Dodgers think?

In the end there are only a few opinions that really matter on the subject — those of the people in the Dodgers dugout. And there, a consensus exists. Pulling Kershaw was the right call.

Kershaw's catcher Austin Barnes told reporters that Kershaw was getting tired on the mound.

"Later in the season, when he's a little more built up, I think he goes out there," Barnes said, per Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. "But I think that's the right call, taking him out there. It was the right move for sure. I think he was getting a little tired."

Roberts, meanwhile, told reporters that Kershaw had asked him to take him out at 80-85 pitches. He also noted that Kershaw's "stuff was starting to tick down" while citing conversations with Kershaw and Barnes.

What does Kershaw think? He's disappointed, naturally. But he's on board with the call.

"As much as I would've wanted to do it, I've thrown 75 pitches in a sim game, and I hadn't gone six innings, let alone seven," Kershaw told reporters. "Sure, I would've loved to do it. But maybe we'll get another chance, who knows?

"I would have loved to have stayed, but bigger things, man. Bigger things."

He also took note of the lockout.

"Earlier in my career, I'd be built up to 100 pitches," Kershaw continued. "Blame it on the lockout. Blame it on me not picking up a baseball until January. My slider was horrible the last two innings, it didn't have the bite. It was time."