New pitching rule in MLB ruins game

Sam TapperSports Writer

It is now February — pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training and position players are right behind them. Baseball is right around the corner, and in the wake of the recent cheating controversy the MLB wants you to forget, the league has implemented a set of new rules for the 2020 season.

Some rules at least make sense, such as the additional roster spot, increasing the number of active players on a roster from 25 to 26 and limiting the amount of times a position player can pitch. However, the new rule surrounding relief pitchers, forcing a reliever to face at least three batters or finish an inning before being taken out, is only hurting the game.

According to an article from USA Today, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred had been pushing for this three-batter minimum for a while, arguing that it would “cut down on the number of pitching changes during a game and speed up pace of play.”

Part of what makes baseball so great is the level of strategy involved. Great game managers have made names and defined legacies for themselves based on strategic moves throughout a game, many of which consist of matchups.

For pitchers, it is the polar opposite, especially with relief pitchers. Managers will usually let their starting pitchers go as long as they physically can. But when making calls to the bullpen, it is all about matchups. It is better to have a left-handed pitcher go up against a lefty batter and vice versa because it puts the batter at a disadvantage.

For example: in game three of the 2013 ALCS, then Red Sox manager John Farrell made the decision to pull lefty Craig Breslow with one out for righty Junichi Tazawa, just so he could face the AL MVP Miguel Cabrera. Tazawa ended up striking Cabrera out with two runners on before giving way to the closer Koji Uehara in that same inning before winning a tight 1-0 game.

Our days of seeing a relief pitcher pitch a third of an inning are over. I am all for speeding up the pace of play, but speeding up and changing the game are two different things. This is changing the game, and not for the better, by completely eliminating an area where managers shine.

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