On Mar. 14, Major League Baseball announced a handful of new rules some that go into effect this season and some in 2020.
Alyssa Williams, USA Today Sports
MESA, Ariz. — The left-handed relief pitchers, particularly the specialists, fear it will cost them their jobs.
The managers believe it will ruin strategy.
And baseball traditionalists despise it.
Major League Baseball’s new rules announced Thursday will require all pitchers to face a minimum of three batters in a game unless it ends an inning beginning in 2020.
And it’s hard to find a soul in favor of it.
“Whenever you impact strategy,’’ Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, “I don’t like it. Pace of the game, I’m all for it. Length of the game, I really don’t think it matters.
“Strategy should be left alone.’’
You try managing a close game, bringing in a reliever, and watch him struggle with his control and walk back-to-back hitters, or give up consecutive homers, and are helpless to do anything about it since the new rules require you to keep him in the game for one more batter.
“I don’t understand that one,’’ Maddon said.
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The left-handed specialists believe they’ll soon become extinct with the new rule.
“It was a little shocking, to be honest,’’ Cubs veteran left-handed reliever Brian Duensing said. “I think it will take jobs away from some pitchers. There are a lot of lefties out there that their career is coming in and getting lefties out. Some guys make a living by getting a hitter out, so now it might be different for them. …
“It’s going to cause some guys to pitch differently, or find new ways to go about their job to keep their job.’’
The fear is valid, Maddon says, because he can already see those pitchers being fazed out of the game. Why, the top 28 pitchers in career appearances facing two or fewer batters are all left-handed pitchers.
“I think it’s going to injure left-handed relief specialists,’’ Maddon said. “It may hurt some guys’ job-wise. The true left-handed relief specialist, it forces him to be more creative, and forces a guy to be a more complete pitcher.’’
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It certainly forces managers to handle strategy differently, wondering whether they will need to issue more intentional walks, trying to manipulate their way around a lineup.
“That can slow it up too,’’ Duensing said. “Sometimes to speed up the game, you do need to make a change. There will be some issues either way that I’m sure will have to be dealt with or talked about.
“Baseball is one of those games there is no timetable on it for a reason.’’
Well, if nothing else, Duensing and veteran pitchers say, at least MLB has abandoned the idea of a pitch clock. The players union fought against it, and although Commissioner Rob Manfred had the right to unilaterally implement the clock, it will no longer be discussed.
“There doesn’t need to be a clock,’’ Duensing said. “There’s so much stuff going on in the game that a lot of people don’t realize, the chess match, just the mental state of the pitcher, the scouting reports. You try to stay on the same page, and sometimes things take a little bit longer. In the grand scheme of things, you’re trying to win the game, and if taking extra time to be on the same page with the catcher, or in the right state of mind to throw a certain pitch is necessary, that’s what you’re’ going to do.
“No pitch clock is good.’’
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