An (Admittedly Crazy) Rule Change Proposal

Earlier in the week, Rob Manfred laid out some ideas that the sport could consider to both increase run scoring and improve the pace of play. While those seem like competing priorities, there is some evidence that both can be obtained simultaneously, though it seems unlikely that either restricting the shift or implementing a pitch clock would move the game in both directions. Instead, if MLB wants to make changes that serve both interests, they should probably pick a different approach.

If there’s been one significant change to the game over the last 30 years that has both extended the amount of standing-around-doing-nothing time during games and tipped the balance in favor of run prevention, it has been the expansion of the modern-day bullpen. Jonah Keri and Neil Paine covered this well in a piece at FiveThirtyEight last August, and because I like the graph they used in their piece, I’m going to steal it and embed it below.

RPperGame

This graph tells the story that you probably already knew; we’re seeing twice as many relievers used per game now as we were 40 years ago. Bullpen management has become a race to see who can swap out the most pitchers in the time it takes to record nine outs, which has both prolonged the time it takes to play the final three innings and put hitters at a larger disadvantage in high leverage situations. As teams have become more aware of the times through the order penalty, the multi-inning reliever has mostly gone away, replaced by an army of platoon specialists who do one particular thing very well.

And as Jonah and Neil showed in another very pretty chart that I’m about to steal, bullpen specialization has worked pretty well. The chart below shows how effective relievers have become since their job was sliced into smaller portions and they were asked to face fewer batters per appearance.

keri-feature-relievers-4

So, we now have more relievers pitching more effectively than ever. If we could reduce the number of relievers used per game, we could theoretically shorten the game and increase offense at the same time. So, what kind of change could be implemented to reduce the number of relievers being deployed each game? My crazy suggestion: each team can only use four pitchers in the first nine innings of a game.

With just three pitching changes allowed in games that don’t go to extra innings, managers would have to be far more judicious in when they attempted to attempted to exploit a platoon advantage. Specialists would still have a spot in the game, but their impact in early the innings would be greatly reduced, as a manager would be unlikely to burn one of his pitching changes in the 6th or 7th inning without knowing that the non-specialists behind him would be able to get the rest of the necessary outs.

This limit on pitching changes would make starting pitchers who can work deep into the game far more valuable, as a team who gets seven or even eight innings from their starting pitcher would immediately have a competitive advantage in their bullpen usage. The times through the order penalty currently makes it somewhat unwise to let your starter work too deep into a close game but this would re-incentivize a skill that starters already place a significant value on.

And it may very well cause starting pitchers (and teams building their rotations) to alter their early-game pitching strategies. With only three relievers available, getting as many outs from your starter as possible becomes highly advantageous, which means that running up a high pitch count by attempting to strike everyone out early in the game comes with a higher cost. The pitch-to-contact strike-throwers who can record 21 to 24 outs on a reasonable pitch count see an immediate spike in value, while the guys who nibble on the corners and can only get 15-18 outs with four walks and eight strikeouts see their value drop.

The increased value of pitch efficiency would create a natural disincentive for pitchers to go for a high walk/high strikeout approach, allowing the game to move back towards more balls in play. Offense would almost certainly increase, as hitters would get to face starting pitchers a third or fourth time through the order more often and would get the platoon advantage more often than they do now. Fewer pitching changes should help reduce the amount of stand-around-and-wait time, and there would be a new level of strategy involved with bullpen management.

Do you deploy your bullpen aces — each of whom are probably groomed for two inning stints, or at least trained to have the ability to get six outs on a regular basis if needed — immediately after your starting pitcher departs, allowing you to get to the ninth inning with multiple pitching changes left so you can take advantage of a platoon advantage in the 9th inning, knowing you still have an extra bullpen arm to swap out your specialist before he has to face too many opposite handed hitters? Or do you stick with the idea of a traditional closer, and simply have more versatile setup men who can pitch more like relievers used to?

Or, maybe you even go to a tandem-starter system, using two pitchers to each go four innings, leaving you with two options to protect a ninth-inning lead? A risk-seeker could even push towards a system of three pitchers planning to pitch three innings each, but with only one extra arm available, you’d be playing with fire if any of those three didn’t have their best stuff or weren’t at 100% on any given day. But if you know you’re only using four pitchers per day and you run a 12 man pitching staff, you could potentially have three sets of four pitchers who work in teams and each pitch every fourth day. You’d probably need a couple of position players who could throw non-embarrassing innings in any game that goes to extras, though.

More likely, teams would start pushing their starters a little bit longer, trying to get back to the days when their first pitcher averaged 21 outs, rather than the 17-18 we’re at today, leaving the manager with three relievers for the final two innings. Pitchers like Clayton Kershaw or Felix Hernandez, who regularly work into the eighth inning, would become even more valuable, giving their teams significant advantages due to their dominance and durability. The Francisco Lirianos of the world would be more likely to get transitioned to multi-inning relief roles, with starting pitchers trending towards the Tim Hudson type instead.

Fewer pitching changes, more runs scored, and probably fewer strikeouts. At least in theory, this could check a lot of boxes for things that could make baseball more enjoyable for the casual fan.

Of course, this isn’t the only way to get at these same ideas. After I started working on the concept for this post, Ken Rosenthal wrote a piece in a similar vein, and his suggestion is the one I’ve heard proposed the most: force pitchers to face more than one batter. Rather than having a limit on pitchers, that kind of proposal would eliminate the specialist position entirely, and would get at the same concept of fewer pitching changes and more advantageous match-ups for hitters.

Quick aside: One of the clear problems with suggestions like pitcher limits or batter minimums is that pitchers get hurt and need to be removed from games for health reasons. There would have to be some kind of allowance for a team to remove a pitcher for a health exception and not have it count against their pitching change limit, but perhaps you require any pitcher removed using that exception to be placed on some version of a disabled list, whether it’s the full 15 day or some shorter list created for this purpose. These kinds of hurdles could be accounted for in the rule changes.

I think a pitcher limit has a few more strategic advantages, as it would incentivize changes in starting pitcher usage that minimum batters faced for relievers would not. While the batter minimum would likely limit the utility of specialists, I’m not so sure we want to completely eliminate unique pitchers from the game; I like watching side-arm specialists, personally. Giving the manager more flexibility to use these types of guys, as long as his other pitchers have created a situation where he can do so, makes the game perhaps a little more interesting.

Alternately, if a per-game limit proved to be too drastic of a change, a per-series limit could be an interesting option. If we said that a team could use 12 pitchers in a three game series, we’d perhaps get many of the same benefits of reduced reliever usage while maintaining more flexibility for the manager to remove a pitcher who is struggling or need to have his workload more closely managed. With a per-series limit, perhaps you’d ensure that your young hurler with command problems pitched the day after your #1 starter, giving you more flexibility to use five or six relievers behind your developing arm because you think you can get away with using just two or three on the day your ace goes.

These would not be minor changes to the game, certainly, but we’ve actually seen this version of baseball before. In 1975, for instance, 96% of nine inning games were pitched with four pitchers are fewer, as it was exceedingly rare for a team to need five arms to get through a regulation game. The game has evolved because there are incentives to using more pitchers to reduce run scoring, but baseball does work with three or four guys handling a nine inning workload between them.

So perhaps its time to consider that maybe that kind of game is more enjoyable than allowing teams to march towards the day when nine pitchers go one inning apiece. If we know baseball teams can get through nine innings with only four pitchers, maybe it’s time to consider making them do so once again.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Pirates Hurdles
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Pirates Hurdles
1 year 4 months ago

Was prepared to dislike this based on the title and my preconceived dislike of rule changes, but I have to say that it isn’t a bad idea. Nice article.

SocraticGadfly
Guest
1 year 4 months ago

I’m OK if … “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

If you’re announced as an official pinch-hitter, you have to bat.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 4 months ago

What would happen if we did Dave’s 4-pitcher limit and the Tango Substitution Rule?

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/substitution-rules/

novaether
Member
novaether
1 year 4 months ago

I think you’d have to institute Tango’s change if for the NL if you instituted Dave’s 4-pitcher limit too. You could do a DH in the NL instead of Tango’s change, but that might not be very popular…

Evan Milefchik
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Evan Milefchik
1 year 4 months ago

This is all a moot point anyway because the MLBPA would not approve of reduced bullpen usage (which equates to reduced major league jobs). Any additional roster spots gained by reducing full-time relievers would likely be taken up by random minor leaguers.

David
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David
1 year 4 months ago

One might suggest that a number of the spots filled by the sixth and seventh guys in a bullpen are already taken up by random minor leaguers.

pepe
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pepe
1 year 4 months ago

why would there be less jobs? he’s not advocating for reducing roster sizes. different kinds of players might be employed than currently are, but the total number of jobs would remain exactly as it is.

Evan Milefchik
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Evan Milefchik
1 year 4 months ago

Bullpens expanded due to the more frequent use of specialists. This rule would reduce the number of specialist you could use and cause bullpens to contract. That means less major league contracts and more minor league call-ups filling the void.

Regardless if this would actually happen or not I have a hard time seeing the MLBPA approving simply because of the possibility of it happening. The MLBPA would prove a major hurdle for this rule change.

Brian
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Brian
1 year 4 months ago

Evan, it wouldn’t decrease the amount of jobs. Obviously the overall skew of relievers in a bullpen might take a shift towards long relievers and away from specialists, but that has no impact on the actual amount of jobs. That’s like saying the DH being added to the NL would increase jobs. It wouldn’t, it would just cause a shift in roster construction.

Evan Milefchik
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Evan Milefchik
1 year 4 months ago

To me, I think it’s very possible for bullpens to contract if you can only used 4 pitchers a game. Those roster spots would go to someone, so yes, there would still be the same amount of jobs but I was referring to minor league contract jobs to major league contract jobs.

And adding a DH to the NL would most definitely add major league contract jobs, since many DHs aren’t fit to play another position but their ability to hit makes them desirable to teams. That would mean 1 less minor league contract being carried on the 25 man roster.

Dave Cornutt
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Dave Cornutt
1 year 4 months ago

Evan, you do realize that every player on the 25-man roster is on a major league contract…

Costanza
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Costanza
1 year 4 months ago

@Evan but the overall number of jobs, aka the number of spots on the mlb roster (25?) doesn’t change. So maybe your bullpen contracts, but teams would just shift towards carrying more hitters. Which would be neat, IMO.

BaseballGuy
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BaseballGuy
1 year 4 months ago

Still a 25 man roster. I don’t understand your point.

Loren
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Loren
1 year 4 months ago

It seems like there would need to be a number of pitches limit where you could use more pitchers in addition to the 9 inning point. Sometimes pitchers just can’t get guys out and no one wants to watch a 17-2 game in the 5th inning knowing the poor guy on the mound has to keep throwing until his arm falls off.

Walter
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Walter
1 year 4 months ago

That really is a the bug in this system. I mentioned in a previous thread to have a per PA or really a per batter reached base system, but Dave does bring up a valid point about the potential loss of the super-specialist in such a system. However the per PA system (and my idea was to limit pitcher changes per inning to number of batters reached base/2 + 1 and pitching changes to start an inning don’t count) doesn’t explicitly have this problem. With my idea you can easily throw that side arming lefty out there, if the situation is right, and have him face just one or maybe 2 batters. Specifically, if it’s the first or potentially the last batter in the inning. If it’s with 0 or 1 out, and not starting an inning the manager would know that the specialist will have to face two batters, at least, and would have to weigh the pros and cons, thus more strategy.

Dee P. Gordon
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1 year 4 months ago

Or worse.

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 4 months ago

I chuckled.

Pike
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Pike
1 year 4 months ago

on NotGraphs, how i miss thee!!!

AMB
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AMB
1 year 4 months ago

A far simpler rule, one where you wouldn’t have to worry about injuries, is simply to prevent a relief pitcher from warming up on the mound.

This would a) shorten games by getting rid of additional TV breaks and b) likely reduce pitching changes by forcing managers to warm up a relief pitcher 100% before using him (thus making it less likely that you could warm up and use pitchers as often).

Marsupial Jones
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Marsupial Jones
1 year 4 months ago

This was my initial thought as well. A reliever gets warm in the pen then we have a 2-3 minute break while he trots out and warms up some more on the mound.

Why not just have him come in and start pitching? No warm ups, no breaks, he gets to the mound the ump says play ball.

David
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David
1 year 4 months ago

Because the mound in the pen isn’t exactly the same as the mound in the bullpen. Pitcher needs a couple pitches to test his landing spot, etc before going live. Agree they could further limit the number of pitches allowed though.

Ron
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Ron
1 year 4 months ago

I would go a bit further, allow only one mid inning pitching change. I don’t care how many changes occur, just don’t interrupt the flow of the game. Of course, I don’t think the game needs more offence so I don’t care about that part. A pitcher an inning, ok, as long as they are ready to go at the start of the inning.

BMac
Member
BMac
1 year 3 months ago

This is a great idea! If the bullpen mound is not the same height as the actual pitching mound, we’ll, fix it! Thé Costa of dort can’t ne that prohibitive.

Plus the pitching mound is the same height as it has been since before they were all born.

I really dislike limiting the number of pitchers in a game. It goes against the way the game is played in a fundamental way. The analysis suggests that smaller bullpens with more effective hitters on the bench might be a very effective strategy. The 12th & 13th man are especially effective against my 3-man bench, but if I have some effective hitters to deploy, I may actually increase my odds of winning.

Andrew
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Andrew
1 year 4 months ago

the problem is the bullpen mounds (especially the away ones) can differ from the actual mound. Some warm up on the real mound is necessary

Costanza
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Costanza
1 year 4 months ago

“hahahaha this guy wants to *shorten* commercial breaks!!!”
— every MLB and TV executive

N8*K
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N8*K
1 year 4 months ago

Costanza, the 4 pitcher limit would result in less commercials the same way eliminating/reducing warmup pitches would.

Izzy
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Izzy
1 year 4 months ago

Theo Epstein once talked about making a reliever face at least two (or three) batters. That wouldn’t have as big an effect as Dave’s idea but it would fix the issue you mention.

Larry Bernandez
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Larry Bernandez
1 year 4 months ago

Maybe that rule could only apply to a team if they weren’t losing the game. So a team with the lead would have to use their pen wisely, while a team that’s not in the lead could use multiple pitchers to save face. If this team suddenly gains the lead after having done 3+ pitching changes, then maybe they’d be allowed one last pitching change while they have the lead.

jakewinter
Member
jakewinter
1 year 4 months ago

So maybe instead, every relief pitcher has to face a minimum of 3 batters? I think that makes it a little more palatable. If no change is seen, then the next step would be what’s outlined. Send it through!

Walter
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Walter
1 year 4 months ago

Maybe we could allow 1 pitcher in the first nine to be pulled after one PA? Then maybe one more per every 4 extra innings?

burgh_fan
Member
burgh_fan
1 year 4 months ago

I mentioned before how crazy that is. If a relief pitcher comes in and retires the last two batters of an inning and his spot in the order comes up in the next half by this rule you have to let him hit. What if this is a very crucial spot in the game? Is this rule really worth forcing teams to have their relief pitchers bat in crucial late game situations?

Jordan
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Jordan
1 year 4 months ago

I have another idea:
Instead of ever having pitchers hit we designate another player who hits in place of the pitcher. For simplicity we could call him the “Designated Hitter”. I know it’s kind of a silly name, we can work on it.

Mark L
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Mark L
1 year 4 months ago

If we’re just going to specialise like that, why not have designated fielders for guys who can only bat? Why are pitchers unique?

BaseballGuy
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BaseballGuy
1 year 4 months ago

Oh, just say “three batters or the end of an inning” as the minimum.

JasonBVT
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JasonBVT
1 year 4 months ago

What about this:
If a pitcher is changed mid-inning (ie starter removal) then the subsequent pitcher must finish that inning AND face at least 1 batter in the next inning. Multiple switches are only allowed in the event of injury; in which the pitcher who failed to complete the inning is immediately placed on the DL (MILB has a 7 day DL that could be adopted by MLB). If a pitcher completes the entire inning he started then the pitcher who starts the next inning is not subject to the mid-inning DL rule.
This allows for use of specialist pitchers as long as they start an inning. The only thing this would limit is mid-inning pitching changes, but still allows for them on occassion if the batters line up appropriately.
Example: Starter goes 6 innings. Reliever A pitches the 7th. Reliever B is a LOOGY who starts the 8th and faces 1 batter. The manager is then tasked with pitching Reliver C for 5 outs or for 2 outs and a DL stint, or for the first out of the 9th and bringing his “closer” out for a partial inning.

louielips3
Member
louielips3
1 year 4 months ago

What about setting time limits on mound visits or Instead of giving relief pitchers a set # of warm-up pitches, give them a time limit. Heck, let’s get nuts and bring back bullpen cars. Cutting those back would eliminate a lot of the downtime during games.

PBMAX
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PBMAX
1 year 4 months ago

YES! Bring Back Bullpen carts!

Costanza
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Costanza
1 year 4 months ago

Best. Idea. Ever.

Jonathan Aicardi
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Jonathan Aicardi
1 year 4 months ago

Crazy perhaps against what’s been embedded as “normal” for the current generations, but a pretty simple and elegant solution. Doesn’t take from strategy but rather presents a different challenge requiring a new strategy of pitcher use. Well done!

Mason
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Mason
1 year 4 months ago

A less drastic idea: only allow pitching changes within innings after a run is scored.

Myske
Member
Myske
1 year 4 months ago

Seriously? Bottom of eighth in a 1-1 game, runners on second and third, two outs, the right-handed starter is out of gas, and a lefty is at the plate. Do we really want to make him pitch because the only run he gave up was in the fourth inning, or can the manager bring in a lefty?

JayT
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JayT
1 year 4 months ago

Instead of run scored it could be no changes until a runner is on base. Not sure I agree with this approach, but it would be interesting.

Mike
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Mike
1 year 4 months ago

I actually really like this idea, particularly as the numbers 3 and 4 are already reoccurring motifs in the game as it stands. It would thematically make since to apply one as a limit to rules governing regulation length baseball.

I think this would also have the added benefit of increasing the value of athletic defensive players given that teams would likely begin to place emphasis on starters pitching more to contact. I also think this would be beneficial in courting casual fans as defensive highlights play very well in online clips.

KCDaveInLA
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KCDaveInLA
1 year 4 months ago

Good idea discussion. I would like to see the elimination of mid-inning pitching changes, which often bring the game to a screeching halt. If you’re going to bring in a reliever, take advantage of the between-inning time-out to warm up the reliever, but he has to finish the inning.

The other thing I’d like to eliminate are the multiple throws over to first with a speedster on base, but haven’t figured out a fair way to do that yet.

Carson's Johnny
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Carson's Johnny
1 year 4 months ago

This is a good idea as well. Only change pitchers between innings.

TB31
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TB31
1 year 4 months ago

I like this, but make it so you can pull your starter at any time. You can never tell if he’s going to be able to finish the inning, so it’d be difficult to leave a starter in there that’s getting rocked. Much easier to leave a reliever in there, because he hasn’t been pitching for very long anyway.

Carson's Johnny
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Carson's Johnny
1 year 4 months ago

The second one is easy, make people stay on the base, or have a line that is the “safe” amount of lead where the pitcher cannot throw over if they are behind the line.

Jason B
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Jason B
1 year 4 months ago

Yuck. We’d see the baserunners get as close to that line without touching it (such that there’s no way a pitcher could see from several feet away if he was 0.01 inch over the line or not) if not obliterate the line altogether (like the back line in the batter’s box). Then it would become “let’s check the tape to see if he was over the line or not. Again. And again. And again. Back in five!”

witesoxfan
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witesoxfan
1 year 4 months ago

I think outright eliminating mid-inning pitching changes is a bit extreme, but the concept is interesting. Maybe it’s to only allow one mid-inning pitching change per game. I will say that those innings where you get 2 or even 3 changes take absolutely forever, and then the guy gets out of it and we get treated to another commercial break. That definitely gets frustrating.

N8*K
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N8*K
1 year 4 months ago

The issue being addressed by the proposed rule change is that pitching changes cause uninteresting time delays. Why not focus on the root cause: the time delay of pitching changes. There is no time delay in end-of-inning pitching changes, so why regulate that?

The focus should be on reducing the time of mid-inning pitching changes. Promising ideas include bullpen cart and eliminating/reducing warmup pitches.

To address the fact that the bullpen mounds are different, perhaps more regulations can be put on bullpen mounds.

When any other player comes into the game mid-inning, they don’t get to take grounders/flyballs. Why should pitchers be treated differently?

BMac
Member
BMac
1 year 3 months ago

And no significant rule change. You’d think the game was broken the way everyone is suggesting rule changes.

attgig
Member
attgig
1 year 4 months ago

MLBPA would oppose this. this would limit the value of relief pitchers, and putting their livelihood at risk. how many failed starters turned middle relievers are out there making their couple million. You put in a rule like this…nobody’s going to pay anyone beyond league min to be the 10th-13th man in the pen….

there are repercussions of this beyond just the game….as much as i like this rule to put a halt on the 3 pitching changes an inning…. left handed specialists would become a thing of the past.

Nate
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Nate
1 year 4 months ago

LOOGY’s are gross anyway.
I like the proposal.

JayT
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JayT
1 year 4 months ago

It would anger some current players, but it’s not like they would be making the rosters smaller. So while a LOOGY might miss out on a career, there will be a soft tossing starter that will now be worth double what he used to be worth.

TKDC
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TKDC
1 year 4 months ago

MLBPA doesn’t really care about LOOGYs anyway.

Mark L
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Mark L
1 year 4 months ago

For the…30 or 40…job losses this rule change would entail, MLB could absolutely crucify the MLBPA in the press as being the people trying to gradually crush the game.

Jason B
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Jason B
1 year 4 months ago

I’m confused as to how this would cause job losses. Rosters would stay the same size, the benches would just shift from fewer one-out specialists to more long relief guys and bench bats. The former one-out specialists could adapt and be stretched out to longer relief or if they’re not able to, maybe they didn’t deserve that roster spot anyway?

David
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David
1 year 4 months ago

If the problem is too many pitching changes, another way to tackle it is to make pitching changes faster. Maybe eliminate the need for the manager to walk to the mound for a pitching change, or visit the mound at all. Or have the reliever take all their warm-up pitches in the bullpen and they must face the batter immediately when they reach the mound. Perhaps put a time limit on how long a manager has to call for a reliever after each pitch. If he doesn’t make the call 5 or 10 seconds after the pitch then the pitcher must deliver another pitch to the batter.

Andrew
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Andrew
1 year 4 months ago

I mentioned in a previous comment about how the actual mound differs from the bullpen mounds, so it’s more of a safety issue.

I do like the idea of cutting down the time when everyone’s stalling and we know a move is coming. That is why a pitch time limit makes the most sense followed by a mound meeting limitation.

David
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David
1 year 4 months ago

Why not just make the bullpen mound the same as the actual mound?

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
1 year 4 months ago

Have you ever seen a pitcher go to the mound, move the dirt a little bit to get comfortable, then start pitching? If a reliever comes in during the 8th inning, there are several prior pitchers that have already changed the mound a little. There’s no way to make those exact changes in the bullpen.

David
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David
1 year 4 months ago

So the warm up pitches are (at least partially) so they can settle on the dirt? Okay, I didn’t realize that, I thought it was primarily to warm up their arm with the in-game catcher. When he said the bullpen mound was different I thought he meant it was a different height or material than the field mound for some reason.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
1 year 4 months ago

My understanding is that it’s more about the dirt than anything else. It should be the same height and material, but late in the game you’ve had potentially 200 pitches thrown and that will have an impact. If one pitcher throws 100 pitches and lands in one spot 100 times, and the other (slightly shorter) pitcher lands 100 times in a different spot, it’s bound to put nooks and crannies in there. It takes a few pitches to get used to that. Maybe not 12 pitches (or however many they allow now), but they definitely need some pitches.

Theoretically, the pitcher’s arm should already be warm by the time he comes in, and unless it’s his first day with the team, the catcher should be used to him.

Dave Cornutt
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Dave Cornutt
1 year 4 months ago

I do think it would be a good idea to speed up the pitcher changing process and eliminate the TV break that always occurs. Yes, the reliever needs a couple of pitches to find his landing spot on the mound. He doesn’t need 8 pitches, taking 10-15 seconds between each one. Proposal: limit the time for pitcher changes to one minute (a bit more at ballparks where the bullpen is far from the infield). The reliever steps out of the pen, gets his butt in gear, and gets to the mound. The ump hands him two balls. He throws one; that’s his firt warmup. He throws the second one. That becomes the ball in play; the catcher tosses it back and the ump calls “Play”. If the reliever dilly-dallies getting to the mound, he doesn’t get his warm-ups. He doesn’t need to stop halfway to the mound to adjust his pants, and he should have tied his shoes in the bullpen.

Andrew
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Andrew
1 year 4 months ago

at that point, why not have the one minute be all inclusive?

You determine if you want to run faster and get more pitches or jog at a slow pace and be fine with fewer pitches

N8*K
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N8*K
1 year 4 months ago

I agree with Andrew and Dave Cornett. Give the relievers a set amount of time to get used to the mound instead of a set amount of pitches. If they want to spend their alotted time digging in the dirt instead of throwing pitches, that’s up to them. I doubt they need the amount of time they normally take.

rar
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rar
1 year 4 months ago

Forcing teams to DL a pitcher to take them out without counting it against the pitcher limit disincentivizes caution – you would almost never see pitchers taken out for precautionary reasons, but rather only for clear-cut injuries, which would, of course, result in probably more pitcher injuries.

Seems like you’d have to make the special DL something really, really short – like a 3/4-game DL or something. Enough to give pause when taking out a reliever, maybe, but you wouldn’t want a manager to have to decide on the spot whether his starter has to miss a start just because he rolled his ankle stepping off the mound.

Catoblepas
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Catoblepas
1 year 4 months ago

We’ve already seen similarly altered DLs for other special situations, namely the concussion DL, which addresses a unique danger of the position. I see no reason why a similar DL that addresses a unique danger of pitching (under this rule) wouldn’t work. I think 5 days might be the minimum, for the same reason starters don’t get suspensions for less than five days. Three or four days just feels like enough to rest your starter or long reliever, and so it doesn’t have much cost associated with it.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
1 year 4 months ago

But I don’t think the issue is about starters or long relievers. The frequent pitching changes are more about the LOOGY’s and other short relievers. Losing your LOOGY for 5 days a little extreme, if it’s just a tweak in his leg or something else that’s minor.

rar
Guest
rar
1 year 4 months ago

But they don’t have to decide right away on concussions. They can pull a player, put in a replacement, and decide after tests are run whether or not the player should go on the concussion list. There’s no reason not to take a player out if you suspect a head injury, and every reason to do so.

On the other hand, if pitchers had to be DLed to come out of a game without a serious penalty being applied to the team, you’d have a clear incentive to avoid taking them out.

Anton Sirius
Guest
1 year 4 months ago

I’ll throw one more option onto the pile: rather than an in-game limit on pitcher use, how about a limit on the number of pitchers who can be on a 25-man roster?

If a manager only has five (or six, at most) bullpen arms available to them, using all of them in the same game suddenly becomes that much riskier. Instead of simply outlawing ‘more than x’ pitching changes, you’re incentivizing reasonable bullpen management. That could also help improve offense, as the specialist end-of-roster roles would start to favor position players again. More pinch-hitters, fewer one-out pitchers.

Of course, smart teams would begin stock-piling relievers with options (and make sure their Triple-A affiliate isn’t a couple of time zones away from their home park) to do quick roster flips, but there’s only so much you could do on that front before hitting the ‘no recall within 10 days without a corresponding DL move’ rule.

B N
Guest
B N
1 year 4 months ago

Seconded. Said the same thing in comments passing in the night. Plus, the optioning thing would probably limited by the fact that:
1. Players would find being sent up and down to be completely onerous (imagine if your job demoted you every couple of weeks…)
2. Those type of “high optioning” contracts would almost certainly be banned as soon as anyone started abusing them.

Catoblepas
Guest
Catoblepas
1 year 4 months ago

The one issue I see with that is enforcing definitions of players as “pitchers”. Unless you prohibit position players from pitching, you can’t define everyone on the roster as either eligible or ineligible to pitch. It’s possible, but it’s not like it isn’t a hurdle, either.

JayT
Guest
JayT
1 year 4 months ago

You could just say that you have a list of 11 players that are allowed to pitch in the first nine innings or if the score is within ten runs. In extra innings or blowouts anyone is allowed to pitch.

Hold On
Guest
Hold On
1 year 4 months ago

Is there an official designation for who is a pitcher and who isn’t? Can’t you have some guys sit in the bullpen just because? On their days off, SP sit in the dugout.

Pitchers have been brought in as defensive replacements, and position players have been brought in to pitch. I don’t think you can define a player beforehand as a pitcher or not.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
1 year 4 months ago

there is some sort of designation made in the context of mid-series playoff roster substitutions

roadrider
Guest
roadrider
1 year 4 months ago

Agree. Limit the pitching staff to 10, which all teams got by with just fine not so long ago. I would also endorse the creation of a 2-man inactive list (like healthy scratches in hockey) to deal with the optioning to the minors issue.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 4 months ago

A couple of points:

1. You can’t make roster moves while a game is in progress.

2. What if the AAA affiliate is on the road?

Erik
Guest
Erik
1 year 4 months ago

Interesting enough, this is all the fault of the DH. I’m sure this would be bared out if they graphed NL & AL separately.

The existence of the DH has allowed rosters to be made up of more pitchers and less potential pinch hitters for pitchers.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 4 months ago

Huh? We need another full-time hitter, so let’s carry more pitchers?

HappyFunBall
Guest
HappyFunBall
1 year 4 months ago

If you remove a pitcher for injury you must either:

a) Place him on the on the DL, or
b) Keep him on the active 25-man roster but be unable to use him in the team’s next game.

The glaring hole here is late-season and playoff “do or die” games, where there is a terrific incentive to burn relievers regardless of what might happen tomorrow.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 4 months ago

It’s an ineffective rule in the case of starters. He’s not going to pitch the next day anyway.

Minty
Guest
Minty
1 year 4 months ago

I submit that MLB require every pitch thrown by Clayton Kershaw, every PA perpetrated by Justin Smoak.

troybruno
Member
Member
troybruno
1 year 4 months ago

while this would quite clearly reduce game times, it would most certanily NOT increase offense.

additionally, the triple would officially die.

Jake
Guest
Jake
1 year 4 months ago

Would game times really be reduced? I see a lot of 0-0 20inning affairs happening here.

attgig
Member
attgig
1 year 4 months ago

how about put a clock (or shorten it if one already exists) on how long a reliever is allowed to warm up on the mound? they should have enough time warming up in the pen, that they don’t need another couple of minutes on the mound… Put in golf carts to get them to the mound, and give them 30 seconds.

attgig
Member
attgig
1 year 4 months ago

looks like David beat me to this idea.

Trotter76
Guest
Trotter76
1 year 4 months ago

Forget the golf cart, make all relievers enter the game like Heath Bell. Full sprint!

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
1 year 4 months ago

I see an opening for a fan attraction

1. drive the reliever on a cart, but have t-shirt cannons attached (this also allows relievers to get some face time and have their own song

2. have a little kid race him to the mound

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 4 months ago

I like it!

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 4 months ago

I think this is a pretty good idea. You’d have at most 3 pitching changes, so there would not be a lot of time wasted in trudging guys out there after every batter. Maybe have relievers come in only between innings and, as Mason said earlier, relievers can come in after the current pitcher has allowed a run to score. BUT, the reliever who comes in must finish the subsequent inning.

Now, there would definitely have to be an exception in case of injuries. But what would be a good disincentive to prevent guys from “tweaking” their elbow at the suggestion of their managers so that they could make more pitching changes?

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 4 months ago

How about that pitcher cannot pitch for the next 3 games (or 8 games if it was a starter)? Even if the injury isn’t DL-worthy, if you have to take a guy out of a game as a legitimate health precaution you should rest him a while you check out the injury.

Catoblepas
Guest
Catoblepas
1 year 4 months ago

You’d need to build in an exception for starters in that scenario, since they usually don’t pitch for the next four games anyway. Feels like a five-game limit is enough that guys won’t have their arms falling off but will keep managers from gaming the system too badly.

B N
Guest
B N
1 year 4 months ago

I think that limiting in-game management will just end up with weird issues or workarounds. Isn’t it simpler to just limit things at the roster level? I mean, they can play that many pitchers because they have 12 pitchers rostered. Cap that back down to 10 and most teams will be using less guys and needing them to go longer.

But if they want to use all 10 guys in one 9-inning game? Go wild. It’s not like they’ll be able to do it tomorrow…

Brock Holt!
Guest
Brock Holt!
1 year 4 months ago

Seems like a good idea outside of the fact the MLBPA would shit all over it and have a laughing party

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 4 months ago

Why would they care? It doesn’t change the number of roster slots. I think the only thing they care about would be if some aspect of the rule had the potential to force an injured pitcher to keep going.

Timbooya
Member
Timbooya
1 year 4 months ago

Personally, I don’t like the idea of penalizing relievers who are too good and managers who are too smart. Something “has” to be done (depending on who you ask.. Nothing really needs to be done), my suggestion is force any pitcher entering the game to get one out. Pitchers who are stellar still get rewarded with their usual platooning and whatnot, but if, say, a loogy slips up and gives a walk to the lefty power hitter, now he’s stuck facing the number 5 right-handed contact batter. That would increase offense while removing some pitching-change time. In the playoffs especially, I noticed pitchers coming in for one batter, accidentally give up a hit, and be taken out immediately after. Why penalize the great pitchers? That removes incentives for them. As mentioned in the article, if a pitcher gets injured, perhaps there is an 8-game DL they’re forced to go on if they’re removed without getting an out (or whatever the logistics of the list would be). Thoughts?

Also, expansions increase offense without changing the pace of the game, I know Montreal and Portland both want teams.

george
Guest
george
1 year 4 months ago

I think this is my favorite idea so far. Would add 1 out or 3 pa though so it doesn’t get ugly. This seems to fairly increase risk of 1 out pitchers while not eliminating them.

dacure
Member
dacure
1 year 4 months ago

I dont think 3 PAs is even necessary. There wont be that many blow ups if a manager is putting a one out specialist in a tight game. I think the minimum one out is a great idea and a more palatable change, even though I do like almost all the ideas posted so far.

Timbooya
Member
Timbooya
1 year 4 months ago

I like the idea of a 3 PA on top of 1 out. It likely would end up falling in the same category as rule 1.04, basically saying ballparks must be constructed such that the home plate to second base line runs East Northeast, aka slightly irrelevant but occasionally will be useful.

Carson's Johnny
Guest
Carson's Johnny
1 year 4 months ago

I don’t think it is crazy at all. My suggestion would be 1 pitching change an inning max. Would speed up games and increase scoring.

maqman
Guest
maqman
1 year 4 months ago

Makes sense to me, I’m old enough (78) to remember when pitchers were routinely going 8 or 9 innings. Cutting one pitcher would allow for another bench bat, which would add offense probably. The time issue should be addressed too by allowing batters to be intentionally walked without throwing four pitches and requiring batters to keep one foot in the batters box as was trialled in the AFL. Lowering the mound again would also help redress the balance between pitchers and batters.

Subversive
Guest
Subversive
1 year 4 months ago

How would roster composition change with this rule in place, I wonder? I assume the days of the 8 man bullpen would be gone forever, and probably 7 man too for that matter. I guess teams would carry more hitters on their bench, also perhaps providing more offense through the ability to more effectively pinch hit.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 4 months ago

Back in the day, most teams carried 10 pitchers: 4 starters and 10 relievers (with one of the relievers possibly being a swing man), or 5 starters and 5 relievers. And yes, this meant that the teams had 7 players on the bench. Pinch-hitting, pinch-running, and defensive substitutions were more a part of the game than they are now. And most teams carried three catchers, which meant that the starting catcher didn’t have to catch quite as many innings per year.

Pescado
Guest
Pescado
1 year 4 months ago

Or, a less extreme change, if you begin an inning, you must finish the inning, unless their is an injury (insert your “Quick Aside” point above)

Ari Indik
Guest
Ari Indik
1 year 4 months ago

Hate to open up this can of worms, but are we adopting the DH in the NL along with this rule? Because if not, penalizing the manager for pinch hittig for the pitcher could be a problem.

Walter
Guest
Walter
1 year 4 months ago

I don’t think this would really make much difference. It would allow for a PH-reliever double swap 3 times per game, that’s plenty to not be giving relief pitchers at bats, or at least only in very rare situations.

Ari
Guest
Ari
1 year 4 months ago

What if you want to PH for the SP, down a few runs with runners on base in the 4th inning?

Walter
Guest
Walter
1 year 4 months ago

then you have be willing to use a reliever for 2-3 innings..?

indyralph
Member
Member
indyralph
1 year 4 months ago

I like the idea overall, but one question. Aside from the injury exception, would there be an exception for blowouts? What if a team is in one of those occasional games that requires every pitcher they bring in to throw 65 pitches to get three outs?

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
1 year 4 months ago

Given that we’re only just now reaching an average of 3 relievers per game and that that average presumably includes extra-inning contests to which this rule change wouldn’t apply, there’s an argument to be made that a four-pitcher limit isn’t drastic enough. Three pitchers? Certainly doable, but it would be a pretty radical change in the playstyle that’s developed in the last few decades.

indyralph
Member
Member
indyralph
1 year 4 months ago

But it impacts the roughly half of games which have more than three relievers and which also are largely overlapping with the overly long games.

Ron
Guest
Ron
1 year 4 months ago

A four pitcher limit is essentially a three pitcher limit. Look at how most managers guard their backup catcher, in the fairly rare chance that one catcher gets hurt. Even on club’s with a good hitting catcher, you don’t see that player pinch hit or DH on an off day, unless the team is carrying three catchers. I am almost certain that this conservative idea will cause managers to rarely want to use their last bullet.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 4 months ago

But under this proposal, teams would probably reduce the number of pitchers they carry on the roster. So there would be more players available on the bench to pinch hit.

Luke
Guest
Luke
1 year 4 months ago

I like the concept of this and pretty much any change being implemented to shorten the game but I think we need to identify changes that don’t have a potential financial impact on players and owners. If you cap pitchers per game, the players union could argue you’re decreasing the value of relievers which could hurt their salaries (maybe offset by increased value of PH and speed guys…I dunno). Pretty much every time a reliever enters a game, I get to watch another string of commercials that are paying for those 100mm TV contracts.

I think “unofficial” pitch clocks and keeping batters in the box are examples of low hanging fruit that MLB should start with to shave 5-10 minutes here and there.

FMelius
Guest
FMelius
1 year 4 months ago

Relatedly – I have to imagine the players’ union would object to a rule that can be perceived to limit player opportunities. Regardless of the fact that the game was essentially run in this manner for its first hundred years, the union’s job is to maximize opportunity (i.e. $) for its constituents.

I like this idea; just not sure how to get it past the union.

Ron
Guest
Ron
1 year 4 months ago

How is their value decreasing? Limiting the pitchers used in each game increases their value for that game that they are used. If they pitch more innings it is likely they will need more rest, so guys will probably pitch less often, but for greater lengths of time.

N8*K
Guest
N8*K
1 year 4 months ago

Luke, I agree that any feasible change will not have a financial impact on the players/owners. But if you are talking about shortening the game, you are going to have a financial impact on the players/owners. Fewer pitching changes means fewer commercials. Shorter pitching changes means less commercials. Unfortunately, the only solution I see them making is shortening the part of the game that matters.

Taylor
Guest
Taylor
1 year 4 months ago

A more moderate approach might be to start by limiting mid-inning pitching changes – can start each inning with a new pitcher no problem, but limit the more disruptive mid inning changes.

HappyFunBall
Guest
HappyFunBall
1 year 4 months ago

Unlimited pitching changes between innings

Mid-inning, you get one change unless the new pitcher subsequently allows a run to cross the plate while he is on the mound. Then you may have a second change, but that’s it for the inning no matter the result.

Is Y
Guest
Is Y
1 year 4 months ago

How about a pitch min of 15 pitches per pitcher with one exception allowed such that one pitcher may break the 15 min rule?

Erik Bedard
Guest
Erik Bedard
1 year 4 months ago

I hate this.

dougiejays
Guest
dougiejays
1 year 4 months ago

I must admit I only skimmed this, but wouldn’t a three-batter minimum be more reasonable? Because what about when a guy just doesn’t have it and walks three guys on 12 pitches? You’re going to cost his team the game if he’s the last man out.

Cole
Guest
Cole
1 year 4 months ago

Don’t allow a mid-inning pitching change, unless the reliever puts a batter on or allows a runner to advance.

Have a real reason to make a change.

If a reliever comes in a gets an out, hey, good job, stick around, you’re doing great. Please continue.

Between innings, replace away.

Cole
Guest
Cole
1 year 4 months ago

(That would apply only to relievers. Starters could be replaced whether or not he had put a runner on.)

Joe
Guest
Joe
1 year 4 months ago

I love this idea. Why is it crazy? There are rules similar to this.

Saber Nightmare
Guest
Saber Nightmare
1 year 4 months ago

It would be a great goal in spirit though I have a few objections.

1. You would have a lot of managers less incentivized to practice caution if a pitcher did not have his pitches working and MIGHT be ambiguously injured.

2. If there is a big blowout and the starter leaves in the first inning it would not be a smart idea to expect 3 relievers to handle 8 innings.

You could start with a rule to expedite pitching changes.

joe
Guest
joe
1 year 4 months ago

Is there any data on how long the last 3 innings are on average vs the first 6? Can you then look at the last 3 innings pitched by multiple pitchers vs a single pitcher? I guess I’m not convinced that the number of pitching changes is what is responsible for the longer games. Sure it does add some time, but I have to think that the ability of these RP to get outs faster (with less hits/runs) than a single pitcher will close the gap a bit. It also makes sense that the lower scoring environment will by definition have closer games than thus more ‘stressful’ long innings late in the game.

Hurtlocker
Guest
Hurtlocker
1 year 4 months ago

I think clocks on the batters and pitchers between pitches would do the same thing in the long run. Stopping the guys with the 27 batting glove adjustments and the pitcher wandering around will speed things up and get the batters to swing more often. More swings, more action, more runs. (hopefully)

Da Bai Zhu
Guest
Da Bai Zhu
1 year 4 months ago

Or just enforce the rules that are already on the book.

no fan
Guest
no fan
1 year 4 months ago

I’ve been thinking that a team could force this by displaying a clock for the pitcher and then having the batter ask for time after the 14 seconds are up. I think the ump might not want to call the ball after 14 seconds, but it would be hard to argue with calling time after the pitcher broke the rule. Obviously, the clock would have not be not so large that it was bratty and the team would have to stick to the clock for their patchers too.

Incidentially, Doug Fister is my favorite pitcher.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 4 months ago

What I’d do is just cut the roster to 24 players for a probationary period and if that wasn’t effective I’d cut it to 23. In order to placate the union, I’d also put the DH in the NL.

I think right now teams go with as bare-bones a bench as possible. Usually this results in a 12 man pitching staff. I think if you cut the roster, the positions that are going to be first out are in the bullpen. I know if you cut two spots, one will always come out of the pen, and usually two. Having a smaller pen will make managers have to think really hard about putting guys in for short stints.

On the money side, actual total MLB salaries would be largely unchanged as you replace one bench bat (the worst one) and two bullpen spots for 15 DHs in the NL, and you just get rid of two mediocre relievers in the AL. Of course, I’d imagine you’d have enough of a shift by just cutting one person from every roster, and the math in that scenario for salaries adds up better, too.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 4 months ago

edit: Adding the DH placates the union and also further increased offense.

second edit: I really don’t care; I like baseball just fine the way it is, I’m just thinking as a person who wants shorter games and more offense.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 4 months ago

There is no way in hell the union will go for a reduction of the roster. MLB tried that in the late ’80s, and it nearly led to a season being lost.

e
Guest
e
1 year 4 months ago

If a reliever gets loose in the pen – no warm up pitches on the mound. This is the only sport where a substitute gets to take reps in the field of play while everyone waits.

Barry Zito
Guest
1 year 4 months ago

A*

FOTHEAD
Guest
FOTHEAD
1 year 4 months ago

So sick of sports changing so much to cater to the casual fan. Millenials are destroying anything they can get their hands on. Seems your typical under 30 person wont like something unless it’s somehow changed to cater to them.

I for one think baseball is perfectly fine. The few small tweaks like forcing batter to stay in the box (which already is a rule) and the automatic IBB are about as far as I’d be willing to support.

I’ll say this is a creative solution, as good a one as Ive read, just too drastic a change for me to keep watching. I already have one foot out the door on the NFL, this would be too much for me to keep watching baseball.

Greed destroys everything. MLB has to be a multi-billion dollar sport and has to stay that way. Players need to make multi millions of those billions. Anyone who truly enjoys the sport suffers. I’d sooner watch the sport die off into a niche thing than have to watch a game that’s so different from the one I grew up watching. Without tradition, baseball may as well be dead.

Jordan
Guest
Jordan
1 year 4 months ago

You sound like a millenial.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 4 months ago

But the thing is, game length is a place where the game has recently deviated from the historical standard. The current proposals to speed up games are just trying to get things back to where they were before 1990 or so.

no fan
Guest
no fan
1 year 4 months ago

I remember seeing that Walter Johnson’s 18 inning shutout took 2 hours. Could you even imagine that now?

fothead
Guest
fothead
1 year 4 months ago

Sure the longer games are a more recent trend. However I think we all realize that one of the biggest culprits are the over-commercialization of the game (and thats not going away). How many of those old games weren’t even aired on TV? Wasn’t until the 80’s where teams had all their games televised.

So to make up for it you in essence destroy the game. Or at least change it drastically. And once you open that door of wholesale changes, whats next? Laser measured strike zones, hitters not rounding the bases following HR’s? Do we add a “three point line” for HR’s where the are worth an extra run for hitting it further? Do we standardize the playing field because casual fans dont understand why teams have different ballparks.

Just madness to me, all of it. I know on a site like fangraphs most will disagree. But if baseball is reporting record revenues, player salaries are steadily increasing, and we are currently seeing parity like none ever seen in American professional sports, why is everyone so hell bent on changes to the core of the game?

Mark L
Guest
Mark L
1 year 4 months ago

I’m 39 and am bored to tears by the length of games. Perhaps the rather deafening “change some rules” noise this off-season will force MLB to actually enforce the rules they already have.

fothead
Guest
fothead
1 year 4 months ago

Yeah I can get with that. The game can be streamlined a bit by enforcing the rules as they were intended, and I’d be fine with that. It actually may increase my enjoyment of the game a bit.

But when you start getting into fundamental changes pertaining to strategy, roster management etc, then good luck MLB,because you just lost a fan, and Im sure many just like me.

Eminor3rd
Guest
Eminor3rd
1 year 4 months ago

Yeah, the injury thing makes this one unrealistic. You won’t be able to get away with incentivizing potential “overuse.”

FOTHEAD
Guest
FOTHEAD
1 year 4 months ago

Furthermore, I don’t buy that all younger people find baseball boring. I cant see how this is the case when soccer (the most boring poorest excuse for a sport) is increasing in popularity faster than any other in America. If running back and forth for 90 minutes with basically nothing happening but chasing a ball is considered action, I must be really out of touch then. Because that makes no sense.

I think baseball just needs to market itself more aggressively, and not just in inner cities where most of the kids haven’t liked baseball for a few generations. I think MLB should work on initiatives that focus on educating younger kids about the game, its nuances and strategy. Baseball is simply not a game that’s designed to be enjoyed passively. Unless you have an understanding of the nuances of the game, it’s hard to appreciate. If we lose those, we lose the game.

Baseball just needs to not assume everyone understands the game and concentrate more on showing it’s depth and talent to the populace. My only fear is people no longer have much appreciation for depth and strategy. Which is sad.

Rowland Smith
Guest
Rowland Smith
1 year 4 months ago

Spoken like a mental midget.

fothead
Guest
fothead
1 year 4 months ago

And why is that exactly? Do I express an opinion different than yours? Even if you like soccer, love it even, Im sure that even you can admit to it not being captivating for everyone. It’s the most accurate comparison to baseball in team sports. Either it’s a “lack of action” or a ton of “meaningless action” take your pick. Point is if people can be sold on soccer they can be re-sold on baseball. MLB have just been shit salesman.

Carson's Johnny
Guest
Carson's Johnny
1 year 4 months ago

At least in soccer people run. If you take things to your level baseball isn’t even a sport. It is more like a series of interlaced skills competitions.

fothead
Guest
fothead
1 year 4 months ago

Yeah they run. Alot. And its basically all they do. How many shots on goal average are there per team in a soccer game, 10? 12? Maybe fewer? I could never get through an entire game so I don’t know the exact answer, but know its small.

My point is that if soccer can be made interesting to the younger generation, then baseball certainly can unless Im missing something entirely (which is certainly possible as I struggle to understand the logic in many ways of thinking today). There’s no more action and a ton of waiting for something to happen. At least in baseball a pitch is thrown every 60-90 seconds or less most of the time.

So the answer can’t only be in changing the game drastically, but in how the game is presented. People are easily manipulated, it just takes the right method. I know 20-30 years ago soccer was a total non-factor. Never knew anyone who played soccer, watched soccer or even knew most of the rules of soccer. So how did it become so popular? This is the question MLB needs to ask itself.

Shit basketball is full of action and has decreased in popularity since the late 80’s early 90’s. The NHL is very much a niche sport but probably has more fast paced action than any game on earth. Being a faster paced game is not the gold goose that we’re being sold on from MLB and baseball media types.

DUTCH4007
Member
DUTCH4007
1 year 4 months ago

Any pitcher is only allowed to pitch once per series.

jim
Guest
jim
1 year 4 months ago

i agree with the title of this piece.

Helladecimal
Guest
Helladecimal
1 year 4 months ago

In an era where Tommy John surgeries are becoming expected career events, how does a mandate to increase pitcher workload make sense?

Carson's Johnny
Guest
Carson's Johnny
1 year 4 months ago

Because injury rates are not the only metric to evaluate changes on? I mean if we changed each game to 1 inning they would be many fewer injuries. Why not do that?

It is a balance of considerations.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
1 year 4 months ago

While pitchers would throw more pitches in the games, they would wind up warming up fewer times in the bullpen. There are a lot of times when a pitcher will warm up, he won’t get into the game, then he warms up the next inning, etc. That can tire him out more than his in-game workload. If you know you’re not coming in for the next batter (or the one after that, depending on the rules) you won’t have to warm up as many times.

BaseballGuy
Guest
BaseballGuy
1 year 4 months ago

Not many people think workload is very closely tied to TJ. As a teenager, yes, but not as a pro. After a certain point, medical specialists seem to think it’s more luck and genetics than anything else.

Jon
Guest
Jon
1 year 4 months ago

I don’t think the game is broken enough to do something like this. Plus, most managers are unable to operate intelligently under the existing rules, so asking them to get their pea heads around the complexities of these rules without the benefit of years of “following the book” just seems unfair.

My first modest proposal: a mercy rule during the regular season. This will reduce innings pitched, which would be a very good thing in lots of ways. Sure, we’ll miss out on that one insane come-back, but nobody was actually left at the game or watching it on TV anyway, so not much harm. Will bring down average game time, that’s for sure.

I also believe the strike zone MUST be fixed and talking about anything else before seeing how a smaller strike zone affects things is a waste of time. My guess is a smaller strike zone helps offense and lengthens games as pitchers continue to pick at the corners, but I could be wrong.

The easiest way to get at the pitching changes issue without screwing around with the rules of the game is also the one least tolerable to MLBPA. Reduce roster size and suddenly your pitching decisions HAVE to change.

DUTCH4007
Member
DUTCH4007
1 year 4 months ago

Change pitchers as often has you want but the first batter a new pitcher faces is given a ball.

Ron
Guest
Ron
1 year 4 months ago

For some reason when I read this I thought “why would they give a ball to the batter? So he can throw it at the pitcher?” Then I realized you meant starts the count 1-0. Then I thought my first first thought would be more fun.

Dr. Obvious
Guest
Dr. Obvious
1 year 4 months ago

I can see it now…..

Game 7 World Series, bottom of the 9th down 6-5, two men on with two outs… Looks like Sergio Romo is hitting for himself since he blew save in top of 9th & he is the Giants 4th pitcher of the game

UGH!!!!

BaseballGuy
Guest
BaseballGuy
1 year 4 months ago

That would be the Giants’ mistake then. But more to the point, easy to avoid that situation by saying the pitcher restriction eases after 27 outs.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
1 year 4 months ago

I like discussing ideas like this (the point of baseball websites), but this one just doesn’t do it for me.

1. Let’s get the time between pitches down, without a clock. Umpires can either keep a rough count or judge sense it when a pitcher is taking too long. Umpires are already continuously evaluated, so why not evaluate if they’re rushing pitchers too much or too little.

2. The time between innings won’t change because of advertising, but let’s have the players set to go when the stations come back from break

3. Pinch hitters need to be ready to go. They get a set time to make it to the box. If the manager is trying to play games with the other manager, the pinch hitter may have to jog to the box a little to make time.

Tom
Guest
Tom
1 year 4 months ago

Bill James suggested in the Historical Baseball Abstract that a manager should be allowed one and only one intra-inning pitching change per game. After it’s used up, you may not switch pitchers inside of an inning unless the team’s current pitcher allows a run.

BaseballGuy
Guest
BaseballGuy
1 year 4 months ago

I like that. Gets around the “fake injury” problem by letting a manager make a change if the guy on the mound is self-destructing.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 4 months ago

I don’t know. I was at the Yankees-Rays game last year where Ivan Nova blew out his arm with one pitch. There was no way that he could have thrown another pitch. I think the way the rule would have to work is that a pitcher removed from the game for injury would have to be put on a DL and miss some games. I don’t see any other way to do it.

sosmug
Guest
sosmug
1 year 4 months ago

not for any rule that hinders strategy

Ron
Guest
Ron
1 year 4 months ago

So you are for this rule?

This rule adds strategy as to when to use the changes, and who to use. A variation of this rule would force the manager to list on the lineup card the potential pitchers he can use. This would possibly force each team to keep two closers.

Currently bullpen strategy has been reduced to by the numbers changes, is this strategy? A change in rules like Dave proposes would only add to the strategic decisions required during the game.

Carson's Johnny
Guest
Carson's Johnny
1 year 4 months ago

The rules stopping you from having multiple batters at the same time hinder strategy. Eliminate them. I want to see managers decide what is the optimal number of batters to swing simultaneously.

Matt
Guest
Matt
1 year 4 months ago

It doesn’t hinder strategy, it just changes strategy. If you can’t see how much thinking and planning will need to go into using only 4 pitchers a game, then you haven’t thought about this for very long.

Some Guy
Guest
Some Guy
1 year 4 months ago

Just want to point out, KC would have never made it to the WS if they were only allowed 4 pitchers a game.

BaseballGuy
Guest
BaseballGuy
1 year 4 months ago

What do you mean? They usually used exactly 3 pitchers each game.

Ron
Guest
Ron
1 year 4 months ago

I would propose one detail and one exception.

I think that the four pitchers must be designated on the lineup card at the start of the game.

I would like an exception for position players pitching. This would allow an emergency response to a blow up by the last pitcher. Also, I am really enjoying the tread of using more position players to pitch.

Nathan
Guest
Nathan
1 year 4 months ago

Love it. Pitching change followed by pinch hitter followed by another pitching change kill the flow of a game. So many times the first 5 or 6 innings are well paced and interesingt and Last a little more than an hour. Then the final 3 or 4 innings drag on for 2 or 3 mores hours. Not to mention the bench and bullpen guys are not usually start players that the fans pay to see.

Matt
Guest
Matt
1 year 4 months ago

Once you announce a pitcher, he has to pitch to one batter. So there can’t be a series of pitching change -> pinch hitter -> another pitching change.

here puiggy puiggy puiggy!
Guest
here puiggy puiggy puiggy!
1 year 4 months ago

small point but that huge dip in 1981 and the smaller dip in 1990 are because of labor related shortened seasons correct? Managers knew they could ride their starters harder or even shorten their rotations because they knew there wasn’t as likely a chance to go through dead arm phases or rack up too many innings?

i know that’s a bit off topic but it could indirectly show how to change the rules to alter how management manages their pitching usage.

OaktownSteve
Guest
OaktownSteve
1 year 4 months ago

I have a very simple solution to the pace of game problem. Federally mandated 4 day/28 hour work weeks. Plenty of extra time to watch ball.

fothead
Guest
fothead
1 year 4 months ago

That’s the best idea on this subject yet. I vote yes!

Farmer
Guest
Farmer
1 year 4 months ago

What if there was a rule made that a pitcher could not be taken out of the game unless any one of these conditions are met:
1. The inning is over
2. A run has been allowed
3. The pitcher has thrown 25 pitches
4. Injury

JWP
Guest
JWP
1 year 4 months ago

Would the improvement in offense be mitigated somewhat by the ability to switch the platoon advantage in a tandem scheme? Starting a RH pitcher for the first 3-4 innings and following him with a LH pitcher for the next 2-4?

Asmo
Guest
Asmo
1 year 4 months ago

I see that 96% of games in 1975 featured 4 or fewer pitchers, but I didn’t see the stat for last year? Anyone know what it was?

pft
Guest
pft
1 year 4 months ago

I dont like limiting pitching changes for obvious reasons. However, I would like to abolish warmups for RP’ers that come into games in the middle of an innings. Let them do their warmups in the pen, thats what its for. In this way we might be able to eliminate an additional 2 minute commercial every time a new RP’er comes in. Give the RP’er 30 seconds to sprint toward the mound, and another 15 sec to pitch. Late arrivals/pitches get penalized a ball.

KDL
Guest
KDL
1 year 4 months ago

They aren’t warming up for funsies. It’s a safety, injury-prevention thing. They aren’t warming their arms. They’re getting used to the mound, which has been altered by the other pitchers pitching that day, who have not been pitching on the bullpen mound.

fromthemachine
Guest
fromthemachine
1 year 4 months ago

You could do something similar to the NHL. Have an active roster and a game roster. 25 guys on the roster, then set a limit (15-20) that can dress each game. That way, you can cycle out tired relievers and there would still be some strategy in bringing the right guys to the park that match up best against your opponent.

TangoAlphaLima
Guest
TangoAlphaLima
1 year 4 months ago

Regardless of the effect on the game of baseball itself, wouldn’t any rule change that encourages less pitching changes, and thus less opportunities for TV commercial breaks, be strongly opposed by the cable companies who are signing massively lucrative deals for MLB clubs? Even the potential reduction of one or two commercial breaks per game likely amounts to a pretty significant sum over the course of a 162 game season. And ultimately, that means less revenue in future TV deals for MLB clubs.

MLB seems concerned about their future with their aging fan base, and they probably have a right to be, but there are so many interests to be balanced with rule changes, the whole procedure gets complicated.

Matt
Guest
Matt
1 year 4 months ago

I disagree. Long games are keeping casual fans away. So shortening them will theoretically draw more fans in so they can then charge more for ad time, and therefore have fewer ads.

They could also put more ads around the stadium or on the uniforms if they are really desperate.

dacure
Member
dacure
1 year 4 months ago

I think this would make for a really interesting bullpen strategy. Instead of 8th inning specialists I bet you’d see (for example) Wade Davis pitch the 8th and 9th one day and Greg Holland pitch the 8th and 9th another. I would imagine teams would start naming 2 or 3 closers and the idea of an 8th inning specialist would be absolved into it. Maybe thats not interesting to anyone else, but I think it’d be neat to strategize knowing which closer is available to shut the door.

Enemy of the State
Guest
Enemy of the State
1 year 4 months ago

I vote for this rule

charles
Member
charles
1 year 4 months ago

My idea…

scrap ground rule doubles for ‘ground rule triples’.

by my calculations more than 1400 runs created and we get to watch the cat ‘n mouse game between the pitcher and runner on third.

Matt
Guest
1 year 4 months ago

What about marrying it to pitches thrown?

3 pitchers for 100 pitches
4 for 101 – 125
5 for 126 – 150
6 for 151 – 175
7 for 176 – 200

That accounts for blowouts and the manager still maintains a large amount of bullpen flexibility.

bookbook
Guest
bookbook
1 year 4 months ago

I like Dave’s idea, and the ideas about limiting mid-inning pitching changes. Yet, both rules really restrict managerial freedom of action in a way that we haven’t seen before.

Could we accomplish much of the same thing by instead limiting roster construction (in a way that we haven’t seen before)?

In my mind, it would feel less intrusive to restrict the roster to no more than 6 relievers (a total of 11 pitchers). That roster construction, as was most prevalent about 15-20 years ago, would naturally force usage towards the patterns of years gone by. Starters would have to go longer. A manager couldn’t burn 4 or 5 relievers in one night on a regular basis. A team would even need to have a long man stretched out enough to go 4 or 5 innings on occasion, again. And sometimes get shellacked for the good of the team.

Also, importantly to me, there’d be more room for platoons, defensive specialists, true pinch hitters (a la Terry Crowley) and the like.

If limiting pitching staffs to 11 wouldn’t accomplish this, 10 probably would. (And there’d have to be limits on the AAA to the majors shuttles, and real oversight to make certain the disabled list wasn’t abused.)

B
Guest
B
1 year 4 months ago

Baseball is mostly fine as it is. Please no arbitrary limits on bullpens or limiting defensive shifts. I for one like a more tactical game. Sure we can speed up pitchers with nobody on base and have guys like Johnny Gomes not through a full uniform adjustment after ball 1. Perhaps less warm up pitches, like get ready in the pen. Perhaps less Catcher visits (yeah Yadi). Maybe like 1 every 3 innings. Maybe 3 total manager visits to the mound over the course of the game the picture is gone. but getting rid of shift and limiting pitchers is way too extreme.

Matt
Guest
Matt
1 year 4 months ago

The pitcher already has to be removed on the second manager mound visit.

peopletocakeratio
Guest
peopletocakeratio
1 year 4 months ago

how about one mid-inning pitching change *after* the starter leaves the game? teams could throw a new reliever out there every inning if they like, but they could only replace their reliever mid-inning once (allowing exceptions for injury).

in my mind it would:
1) lessen the number of times relievers get up in the bullpen and throw warm-up pitches, only to see the pitcher on the mound get out of a jam. yet that reliever warming up never gets into the game.
2) allow most relievers to get their warm-up pitches in while their team is at bat the half-inning before they enter the game. i’m to understand that relievers like knowing when they should expect to come into a game, so having more advance warning for a pitching change could be welcomed.
3) it’d put a premium on a team’s best relievers entering a game in the highest leverage situations. if you’re breaking the glass, so to speak, on the mid-inning change, you better be calling on your best pitcher to get you out of the inning.

part of me hopes that enacting a rule like this would increase the use of players capable of pitching as fielders that could come in mid-inning to pitch while sending the starter out to right field for a bit, allowing the starter to regroup and start the next inning. think a player like rick ankiel or brooks kieschnick. the guys that convert to pitchers mid-career and those who are capable of either pitching or playing another position when they’re drafted would be more valuable.

Matt
Guest
Matt
1 year 4 months ago

I really like this idea. Limiting the number of substitutions in a sport isn’t without precedent either. Most soccer leagues only allow you to make 3 substitutions per game

binqasim
Member
binqasim
1 year 4 months ago

does this affect national league teams more since despite having pinch hitters, they may not be able to use them as much?

Erik
Guest
Erik
1 year 4 months ago

I really tried to like your idea, but it just wasn’t happening. You are putting pitchers health at risk, and nobody will go for it. Most of the other suggestions in the comment section are just as bad. Heck, you might as well reduce the amount of balls for a walk to 3. That’ll fix everything and not increase risk to anyone.

NoMoSnow
Guest
NoMoSnow
1 year 4 months ago

The best way to affect change is to keep it short and sweet and easy to eat. Take part of Tango’s idea, and just let NL teams pinch hit for the pitcher without having to pull the pitcher (and no change to 25 man rosters). NL teams would reduce bullpens and carry extra bats causing the pitching changes to decrease. It’s a great way to bridge the gap between the No-DH NL vs DH AL. It might even lead to one set of rules eventually.

Maybe I’m wrong but I think NL fans would love this change, to the point that the Union would be courting a public relations disaster if they put up a road block. Its a simple change that introduces lots of great in-game and roster mgmt strategy discussions. Plus it increases the value of pitchers who go deep and relievers who can be effective against both RH/LH hitters. That’s putting value in the right place to me.

Thomas Scherrer
Guest
Thomas Scherrer
1 year 4 months ago

Piggybacking on another commenter in regards to rosters. Suppose we expanded the rosters to 28 players with 3 healthy scratches (NHL) per game with this concept.

Any pitcher or player “injury” the previous game would automatically fill one of the HS spots the following game to avoid any kind of malfeasance. Plus, with 3 extra guys getting guaranteed MLB salaries, the union won’t say a word.

Home team gets to finalize their 25 last before each game to exploit whatever matchup that may favor them.

Pitchers MUST face at least one batter per outing to avoid the pc…ph…pc nonsense.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
1 year 4 months ago

I think Dave is just trolling us. Rule change ideas always generate a huge number of responses.
The guy who suggested that pitching changes be limited to between innings, however, had a great idea.

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