Everyone knows that Judd Apatow’s movies are always 15 minutes too long. Similarly, you loyal readers of BTB probably realize that my posts are always 2-3 paragraphs too long. I am going to try to compensate for that with a quick little post about an easy fix to something all baseball fans hate.
Every baseball fan hates the expanded September rosters. Nobody wants to see a 6-5 9-inning game with 16 total pitchers used. You shouldn’t be able to drive from North Jersey to Montreal over the length of a 9-inning game. The signature moment of the 2016 Mets season was a walkoff homerun by Asdrubal Cabrera.…but that was still the end of a 9-8 11-inning victory in which 19 pitchers were used! The game lasted 4.5 hours, the last three of which occurred during Jacoby Brissett’s first NFL win (27-0 shutout over Houston). Therefore, the signature moment of the Mets’ 2016 season occurred well after many fans had tuned out.
I have heard smart people like Howie Rose and influential people like Mike Francesa come up with clever solutions. Howie has suggested that teams continue to be able to expand to 40-man rosters in September, with the caveat that teams can only “dress” 25 players per game. Francesa says that teams should be able to have a 30-man roster all year, with 25 people “dressing” each game. This all sounds well and good, but there is one major flaw. In both situations, teams will not dress starting pitchers unless they are starting that night. For example, in a mythical world where the Mets’ five young starters are healthy and dominating; if it’s deGrom’s night to pitch, the team would deactivate Syndergaard, Harvey, Matz, and Wheeler. Since NL teams typically carry 7 relievers while AL teams typically carry 8, this loophole would essentially cause NL teams to have 11 active relievers and AL teams to have 12. Problem not solved. Joe Girardi and Terry Collins would definitely try to use a double-digit number of relievers every night. What a nightmare.
Therefore, the best solution is this. No team should be able to use more than 7 pitchers in a 9-inning game. If you make that change, all the other proposals are rendered unnecessary. Really, an MLB team should be able to get through every game with no more than 5 pitchers, so I’m being nice. I know that purists hate rule changes, but purists also long for the days where starters usually went 9, while relievers pitched until they were no longer effective. Non-purists are fine with rule changes. Everyone should like this change. Plus, by capping a team at 7 pitchers per 9-inning game, managers would be forced to try to stick it out with pitchers a little longer. Managers would want to “keep pitching changes in their pocket” for later in the game when the biggest at-bats arise.
Let’s do it, Rob Manfred. Save these overthinking managers from themselves and cap teams at 7 pitchers per 9-inning game.