Starting Monday, there will be more space in MLB’s bullpen, from Seattle to Tampa Bay, and plenty of places in between.
Major League Baseball (MLB) has decided to move forward with its long-delayed rule limiting the number of pitchers to 13 per formation. This decision could affect baseball in a multitude of ways, from more position players to the mound to slightly more minor league stints for pitchers who may still be subject to this measure.
« I’m not sure I understand that rule, but we’ll follow it, » Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona said. But those are the kind of rules I have a problem with: the ones that tell you how to be competitive. On some occasions, especially during doubleheaders, as we will soon have, some teams may be at a disadvantage. »
The limit of 13 pitchers was to be put into effect for the 2020 season. It was part of a series of new rules announced by Major League Baseball, such as increasing rosters to 26 days, or requiring a new pitcher to face at least three batters or complete a half inning. The pitcher limit rule has been postponed due to the pandemic.
The MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) decreed on March 31 that this limit would be respected as of May 2, but on April 16, they announced that the date was postponed to May 30. Last month, they indicated that the rule would go into effect on June 20, and this time it’s the right one. MLB warned its clubs in a statement last week.
« Have one more pitcher »
« We were hoping they weren’t going to go ahead, » Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez said with a laugh. I could lie to you, but it would be nice if we could keep this launcher more. »
The Nationals are last in the Nationals East and have had all sorts of pitching troubles, in part because two starters — Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross — only have one start between them in 2022 due to wounds. Their relievers were not spared either, in addition to experiencing several ineffective outings. All of this has led to a high turnover of personnel among the relievers.
« Honestly, it’s not just us [dans cette situation], added Martinez. You go around the teams, and I think most would like to have one more pitcher, at least until the end of the season. »
The Nats were one of 18 teams with at least 14 pitchers on their roster after Saturday’s games, according to Sportradar. The Seattle Mariners had an MLB-high 15, as did the Minnesota Twins, New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers — all three division leaders — as well as the defending Series champions world, the Atlanta Braves.
Major League Baseball hopes the 13-pitch limit will help batters and game pacing. Today’s bullpen has more depth than ever and has multiple pitchers with lightning-fast balls. Having one less option in the bullpen should result in fewer pitching changes, which have a knack for slowing games.
« I think they’re doing this, in theory at least, to keep starters in games longer and have fewer pitcher-hitter matchups, » Chicago Cubs manager David Ross said. That’s what they did with the three-batter rule, so I think they hope to improve the game with that rule. We’ll see what happens. »
The flexibility of training will take on even more importance with this new rule. The more pitchers a team has that can still be traded to the minor leagues, the more fresh forces they can call into the bullpen.
This rule change could also bring more positional players to the mound, as baseball is hammered with questions about this practice and what it means to the health of the sport.
Cubs first baseman Frank Schwindel allowed a homer to New York Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka on a 35.1 mph pitch on June 12, the slowest pitch for a homer since Statcast has kept that data , in 2015.
The Detroit Tigers used three position players to complete a 13-0 loss at the hands of the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, a performance deemed embarrassing by Tigers manager AJ Hinch.
Counting Saturday’s games, 31 position players have thrown a total of 42 times in 2022, according to Sportradar, numbers virtually identical to those in 2021 (34 for 42) as of June 18.
« You’re not going to waste pitchers, » Ross said. You will try everything for everything during the matches that you can win. But for those where you are no longer in the game, you will think about the next day. »
With Ronald Blum, Joe Reedy and Howard Fendrich of The Associated Press
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