The 2023 Major League Baseball season will feature the implementation of several rule changes, including a pitch clock, limits on defensive shifts and bigger bases. There might be one more change coming, with Jesse Rogers of ESPN reporting that a change to the rules on position players pitching is being discussed by the league and the players.
Teams will occasionally put a position player on the mound when the result of a game already seems determined in a large blowout. The decision is usually about not using an actual member of the pitching staff in a game that where the odds of changing the outcome are extremely low, thus sparing them the extra usage.
However, it was thought by many that the sight was becoming far too common and rules were implemented to limit its usage. Going into the 2020 season, each player was designated as either a pitcher, position player or two-way player. To earn two-way status, the player had to pitch at least 20 innings and start at least 20 games as either a position player or designated hitter, in either the current season or the previous one. Position players were only allowed to take the mound in certain situations, if their team was winning or losing by at least six runs, or if the game went to extra innings.
Rogers reports that the rule hasn’t worked, with the problem actually becoming worse, with 32 instances of position players pitching in 2017 but 132 times last year. The league and the players both reportedly agree that it’s happening far too often, with the players also concerned about how the statistics affect arbitration and free agency, and they are talking about changing those existing rules. The change would see the limits stretched so that a team that’s winning a game would have to be ahead by 10 runs, whereas the trailing team would have to be down by at least eight.
What was a novelty experience became something far too common so this is definitely a step in the right direction.
That’s my stance on it as well. I’m totally in favor of the run difference being 8-10 runs.
I agree with both of you. But we also need to consider what inning it is. An 8 run lead in the 2nd inning is different than the same lead in the 8th, for example.
Good point. If it’s an 8-10 run lead after the 7th, then maybe they’ll be allowed to use a position player to pitch? I saw a comment on FanGraphs proposing an innings won stat that could be used to incentivize teams to not using a position player. Just spitballing ideas.
Baseball addressed the constant pitching changes with the 3-batter rule. So expand the roster to 28 to allow extra pitchers for middle relief and mercy-type pitching. This should provide enough cushion to swing the pendulum back in the right direction.
Expanding for these types of arms shouldn’t be too expensive for the owners and the MLBPA gets two more players in MLB. Win-win.
I kinda agree. I’ve never understood why the roster limit is so low.
The 1972 A’s I just chose 1972 because I liked the year. Had five RPs for the entire year. They obtained three others who pitched a grand total of 8.2 innings.
Twenty Six men is plenty.
@ Halo11. Very different game in 1972
I would rather allow teams to forfeit than increase the number of pitcher changes a game.
Fans who only go to one game a year and travel 5 hours to see their team forfeit in the bottom of the first down 8-0 in a gambit to have a fresh pitching staff for their next series will disagree with you. A forfeit had better include not just a ticket refund but compensation for wasted effort and travel.
I would not suggest allowing forfeits before at least the 7th.
If I pay for 9 innings, I want my 9 innings no matter how badly my team is losing. Because I enjoy baseball regardless of the score. There’s no quicker way to lose a fan base than to literally quit on them. (If I’d been at one of those 7 inning split double headers I’d have demanded a refund too.)
You Can Put It In The Books .
And while we’re on the topic – get off my lawn!
You’ll get 7 innings (5 for a rainout) and like it.
Don’t forget to factor in MLB limiting the active roster to 13 pitchers & 13 position players. You can’t put further constraints on how many pitchers a team carries and not expect they’re going to look to exploit a loophole if it saves the bullpen to fight another day.
13 pitchers is not a constraint. It’s an expansion.
They already expanded the number of pitchers. No need to expand the roster, further. There is no win for the owners, here. Let’s go back to the 10 man staff, and actually teach them how to pitch. Then maybe they could pitch more than one inning from the bullpen, and more than 5 as a starter.
No, especially with the 3-batter minimum, you shouldn’t need more than 13 pitchers on your roster. It wasn’t even that long ago that most teams used 12 pitchers most of the time. Expanding the bullpens even further would water down MLB bullpens with guys who only pitch in blowouts but should really be down in AAA.
It’s not too common at all. It only happens in blowouts and long extra inning games, in which case it actually makes the rest of the game more interesting to watch. Managers can use position players to pitch all they want as long as they keep it to those two situations.
IMO this shouldn’t be changed. Can be pretty fun to see.
I agree and it’s still not that often. Figure 132 half-innings out of 21,870 regular season innings. That’s 0.3% of the pitches. That’s enough for Ron DeSantis to start a police crackdown on it, but not enough to make a notable difference.
There are a number of occurrences that happen at rates far lower than that that receive nationwide attention – even nationwide panic (and I’m not making fun when I point that out). So I’m not sure that rate by itself proves the point. Crack on DeSantis or people responding to school shootings or whatever the case might be – the context changes how high the rate needs to be to matter to folks.
Plus, it actually makes the last inning or two of a blowout more exciting to watch than it would otherwise be.
If your team is losing, you can watch what is still a novelty situation rather than turn the TV off. If your team is winning, then you get to watch them try to beat up on the other team even more as they try to get their timing right against a very weak opposing pitcher.
It’s funny when it happens, but that humor is entirely derived from “lol he’s not supposed to be pitching”. If it’s happening a lot, it’s actually less funny. Repetition is the death of comedy.
Perhaps less funny with such repetition, but still more funny than watching a normal pitcher pitch in the last innings of a blowout.
I hate this attempt to dictate who is allowed to pitch and who is not. All it does is harm prospective two-way players.
You mean it forces managers to manage their 7 man bullpen? Oh, the inhumanity!!!!!
How about going the other way and saying anyone wearing a numbered uniform is fair game? Baseball is the only sport I know where that occurs. I think the batboy should get a chance during a blowout.
I was watching the Super Bowl yesterday where offensive lineman were throwing to other offensive linemen. I also enjoy Westbrook playing Center, And I miss the days of Gretzky at goaltender.
Other sports don’t do that because it’s a joke.
Apples and oranges. No other sport on the planet schedules a team to play more than two days in a row. Basketball and hockey might do three games in four days on a rare occasion during the regular season. Baseball regularly requires teams to play 9-10 games in just as many days.
t’s a joke to have positions players pitch. Period.
It’d be a lot more fun if they could choose a volunteer fan from the crowd to pitch an inning. They could even auction the experience for charity.
Hockey has an emergency goaltender. They are a local who is not on the roster.
The hockey example is actually because they *won’t* assign a random winger to goaltend, they insist that whoever is in net is trained to do that. Because it requires a different set of skating skills (and skates!). If MLB was doing something like that they would keep an old junkerball pitcher available to throw essentially BP type pitches for the remainder of the game. Instead of making the utility infielder or backup catcher do it.
I do think this rule being in effect in 2020 is part of why Jake Cronenworth doesn’t pitch anymore. The Rays started converting him to play both ways in 2019 but he didn’t have two-way eligibility when he first came up in 2020 because he hadn’t thrown enough innings so it wasn’t even an option to use him as a pitcher anymore.
Ultimately I think the Padres scrapped any plans for him pitching because he’s too valuable as a position player, but this rule in 2020 definitely didn’t help him to become a two way player.
You Can Put It In The Books .
If a team isn’t interested in trying to win by putting an actual pitcher out there, or simply runs out of bullpen options, there needs to be a mercy rule or some sort of forfeiture mechanism rather than allowing this farce to continue. I know it’s blasphemous but who wants to watch Yadi soft tossing away in a four hour long blowout
I do. That’s much more interesting than just not playing the final inning at all.
Why can’t the team trailing just forfeit if they don’t want to waste another arm in a blowout? If they’re willing to bring in a position player, then they’re essentially saying that they’ve given up.
I disagree there has been plenty of times where the Dodgers brought in a pitcher when they had a huge lead. I personally enjoy it, the fans at the stadium enjoyed it, and the players enjoy it. Seems like more micro managing.
Imagine being fan on the other side of that equation. Down by 10+ runs and out trots my back up LF to eat an inning. Just kick a man while he is down.
It’s still more interesting than just watching them face a normal pitcher for the last inning when your team has almost no chance to win
Then dont get 10 runs down. Dont cry if someone ‘disrespects’ you, play better.
@nyyanksfan – that would cause a problem with advertising $$ . The players. The teams , MLB
None would allow this . Pre purchased advertising commericals .
I here what you’re saying, I know it’s all about the almighty buck at the end of the day, and it will never happen. I’m just saying it should. Watching your backup outfielder toss 78 mph fastballs is pathetic.
Pathetic, maybe, but still more interesting than watching a normal pitcher pitch in a blowout.
So much more than that too. Lost concession sales, potential lost merchandise sales.
You’re right, but it’s not just advertising money. Players can’t give up those late inning at bats when their pre-arbitration status and their arbitration salaries are literally based on their own statistics and how they compare to their peers. The MLBPA would never allow it.
Article basically just explained why. Affects stats or bonuses that could result in monetary losses or gains passing through Arb. Lets add people drink at games. 7th inning Stretch and cutoff for alcohol. Sending fans home early that may be driving hazards puts somebody at fault. With the cutoff, they at least have a reasonable deny for being at fault.
Not only would that not happen because of revenue, but also you’d see like a dozen forfeits in September. Teams will get the division and then just forfeit every game they’re down by 3+ runs by the 7th inning or earlier. Why risk an injury right before playoffs?
Those position players sometimes are quite effective.
Masyn winn (cards top 3 ss prospect) throws 98mph on the mound. Can he not pitch in relief now if the manager so chooses?
EBUP. It’s fun when the ebug comes in for an NHL game, let’s do it in baseball too
Seems pointless. A lot of position players want a chance to pitch an inning just as some pitchers want a chance to hit. A manager will have several guys to choose from usually. These guys are baseball players, let them be
Professional Baseball has many “rules” that need to be changed, adjusted, brought up to date which require IMMEDIATE attention. Bringing in a position player to pitch IS NOT one of them. Focus on needed changes, not FLUFF.
You Can Put It In The Books .
Care to elaborate
It was a fun novelty to see Wade Boggs warming up in the bullpen and pitching a scoreless inning. What’s not fun is seeing it practically everyday (or, 132 times as the article states).
132 instances when a position player is brought in as a pitcher in one season speaks to the issues of: big money teams vs low revenue teams, the increased instances of injury, the lack of team depth due to the ridiculous, out dated 26 man roster limit, the archaic 40 man roster limit, the lack of quality pitching, the players who under perform offensively (lets hope the shift restrictions help), team owners that refuse to “pay up” to put a competitive team out on the field, lack of REALISTIC limits of spending on players, lack of realistic penalties for the signing of free agents, etc.
How about a 2 or 3 pitcher taxi squad consisting of DFA’d older player types? Allow them to be added to the MLB roster temporarily if a team staff throws like 150+ pitches in a game. Let them be available for 2-3 games and then back off the roster. Put them through waivers after each activation, pay them a stipend and per diem, give them service time while activated, maybe a pro-rated service time while not. Keep it all off the 40 books so the impact players are not affected. Be a lot better than the dfa merry go round we see now.
An incredibly thoughtful response. Got me convinced. Lol
Considering that these stats affect the pay of pre-arb players, I agree with the proposed changes, especially for teams up that much. For teams that are down that much, I think you should be punished by having to use only pitchers. It’s your fault that so many runs crossed home, so why should you get just the same one loss as though you’d lost 3-2? There should be some additional consequence, in this case, that of a tired bullpen. This is one of the reasons why you have long relievers in the first place, to just limp to the end of a blowout.
Appearances and innings pitched are some of the areas incentives can be given in contracts. For every time a Harold Castro pitches, he may be preventing a pitcher from reaching one of their incentives.
It seems like a common sense rule change.
Just make it ahead or behind 2 runs per out. So 9th inning needs to be 6 runs. 8th inning 8runs to 12 runs. No position player pitches prior to the 8th inning. You save the Setup or Closer from pitching in a meaningless game. Those are to 2 most important RPs getting paid the most amount of money with the most amount of invested talent fans would want pitching in big moments for their team.
Since a RP needs to pitch to 3 players I guess maybe make it 2 runs per out in 9th and 1 run after. Maybe it’s 7,8, and 9 to start the 8th inning.
Actually for this change. But has to be 7th inning or later. Never was an issue in the past because when you were getting blown out, someone had to suck it up and pitch a few innings to end the game. Now, managers cycle pitchers so frequently there are times they just don’t have an arm to throw out there when the game is out of hand.
Hate to pay major league prices to watch a non pitcher waste my time.
Given how watered down the pitchers (or should I say, throwers) are nowadays, it really doesn’t matter anymore. Far too many guys coming in who throw hard but have never learnt how to actually pitch. So, they throw hard for 1 inning and are now no longer useful for the team the next day. Learn to pitch and we wouldn’t need to have pitchers throwing their arm out for 1 inning and now no longer able to contribute for the next game. The goal is to get guys out, not try and break the fastest pitch record, only to end up being useless to your team because you got injured or have no control… DFA…
I agree. Bring back the Mike Marshall’s, and more than one inning every day pitchers instead of these unavailable to pitch today wimps. Give me the complete games again too.
I agree with this.
By the time in the game that happens, it really wouldn’t be a waste of time because many people would probably leave anyway.
I don’t really understand your point. Can you clarify that?
Do you stay at the ballpark for the end of a blowout game? Either does anyone else.
So, if we have blowouts in baseball, why would we need to change the rules, if most people have left the game already? That doesn’t make sense. As if, all of the sudden, if it’s 20-3 in the 4th and they bring in a position player to pitch, that the fans will all of the sudden leave, but if they bring in a mop up pitcher, they’re going to stay. Righ…
You have seen position players pitching in the 4th inning? None pitched before the 8th last season.
The point he was making was that by the time a position player is used in the 8th or 9th inning of that blowout game most of the fans are gone already so it doesn’t effect in park revenue.
If you are still watching on TV at that point the entire reason is to see something crazy like the backup 2B pitching.
So, if most happen in the 8th or 9th inning, why is this a problem for MLB that they would need to change the rules? Honestly, I have no problem with a team deciding how to use their players.
We are both saying the same things. So was he. No need for a rule change.
Maybe this will force teams to start getting pitchers that can literally eat innings instead of watching position players put on a comedy show. Or institute a mercy rule, but that’s not happening.
Bauer? But I Hardly Know Her!
What’s the actual problem with 132 occasions of position players eating up an inning? That’s roughly 0.5% of the time. I’m not being snarky.
That’s 132 opportunities for an actual pitcher to get into a game. Many releivers get paid extra based on the number of appearances. So the utility player pitches and the reliever misses his $200,000 bonus for reaching 45 appearances. That’s why the union wants to limit it. It’s costing them money!
Pitchers that pitch in mop up duty are not the ones being paid based on appearances. It costs no one money. In fact, having to pitch in mop up duty and getting injured as a result probably costs those relievers more money.
Dumb. Let managers forfeit or let them do what they want. Stop tinkering and meddling with on field decisions.
I am totally against position players pitching! The threat of a position player being hit in the face or head while on the mound is too much for me to watch. Sooner or later it’s going to happen!
But you are OK with it happening to pitchers?
Pitchers generally don’t lob the ball up to the plate (well most pitchers).
And sometimes these positions players get hurt and miss significant time.
Did one get hurt last season?
How about the season before? Or 2020? 2019? 2018?
You Can Put It In The Books .
To be fair, there’s not much difference between the actual starting pitchers the Tigers were forced to throw out there last year. Kody Clemens threw 7 innings of 3.86 ball!
It would have been nice if they’d told us how many of last year’s 132 instances would have violated the proposed rule change.
I have a idea
Quit changing the damn rules
All these new rule changes suck
Especially Universal DH and extra inning and Runner starts on 2nd. What is this? Busch League 12″ Softball
Universal DH should have happened 50 years ago. But the extra inning rule sucks.
I’d be more ok with the extra inning rule if it started at the 12th inning. Around 2/3 of extra-inning games ended in the 10th or 11th before the rule, so there’s really no need to start it as soon as a game goes longer.
I hate the ghost. Just remove a defender from the field after the 10th, another after 12th etc. At least the hitter still has to actually hit the ball to get into scoring position
Eliminate position players pitching; allow two more pitchers to travel with the team; have manager list out “active” pitchers each game (we can argue about how many); and if a game goes into extra innings the “inactive” pitchers become available.
My question is how do teams get to designate new players as two-way players if they have to have already done it to get the designation? Obviously it’s not a common occurrence but every year nowadays there seems to be some team with a position player trying to become a pitcher. If they need appearances to get the designation and they impose limitations to when position players can pitch, it seems like it would be impossible to be converted into a 2 way player, no?
Leave the game alone.
Says only you. No sport can survive without implementing changes with time and technology
You Can Put It In The Books .
A’s to Vegas!
I’m definitely sick of seeing position players on the pitching mound. As a Tigers fan, I’ve seen way too much of it the last couple of years.
The league wants to control everything… even going as far as having a special ball for when Judge bats.
If pitchers don’t hit, then hitters shouldn’t pitch. EVER! Or if they do, then all position players should be removed and replaced by pitchers.
Teams have a 13 man pitching staff. If a manager cannot figure out how to get through a 9 inning game with that many pitchers, then he shouldn’t be managing in the major leagues. How about this? When the score is 13-4, stop changing pitchers every third batter. There have been very few instances in MLB history of a pitcher’s arm falling off because he had to pitch a second inning. Stop throwing the ball 100 MPH and dial it back to 90. Might end up making them better pitchers anyway.
I’m all in favor of a mercy rule of some kind.
Since gambling has taken over the MLB, there is always or should always be a concern about manipulating the score. All sports are now under the microscope as far as I can see. Umpires and refs in football can easily control the under/over. Ya can’t have managers looking suspicious, or have fans leaving a stadium questioning what just happened.
You Can Put It In The Books .
The NFL definitely gets suspicious. A lot. It seems like every week there’s a controversial call that leaves fans scratching their heads.
We need a bigger and lower height base
Enough of this junk.
We need a rule keeping Manfred from commissionering.
Either allow position players to pitch or don’t. Why make it more complicated than that?
Who cares? All 26 are technically eligible to pitch so why not let a team use its roster how it sees fit. It also does create a bit of novelty in an otherwise meaningless game.
You Can Put It In The Books .
Major League Baseball and the Players Union care.
1.) Each team should have an aging vet who travels with the team and is only used in these situations. A Terry Mulholland if you will. He doesn’t count against the 26 man roster but once he comes into the game, he has to finish the game (barring injury). That way we aren’t seeing position players throwing it up at 60MPH but teams aren’t screwing over their bullpen. And Terry gets to hang around the pros and extend his career – fans will cheer for their aging vet. And every once in awhile, one will shit the bed and it’ll be entertaining to watch a team have to sweat it out.
2.) If we want to make things entertaining, whenever a position player comes in, opposing pitchers can pinch hit but not have to take the field. Basically it’s a pinch hitter without a fielding implication, the position player stays in the game but cedes his at bat. It would end games quicker and it’s fun to think about pitchers trying to hit off position players.
I’m not going to bother looking it up, but I’d be curious how many of those instances were the winning team trotting out a position player. I can’t think of a single instance where I would call a lead safe with a position player on the mound. It always seems like the losing team is the one that gives up the game by doing so.
I couldn’t find one last season.
Pujols pitched once last season in a blowout win for the Cardinals.
Considering it was his swan song, it feels like a purposeful outlier.
Ty. 1 out of 132.
I don’t like the rule at all. Frequently those position players do an admirable job (although it’s sometimes because hitters aren’t used to the 65 mph fastball). What manager is going to bring in a position player to intentionally lose a game?
Allowing position players to pitch may result in some of them becoming two-way players, and that’s a good thing. (It actually isn’t clear to me how players will get those 20 innings in order to become a two-way player if they are only allowed to pitch in hopeless blowouts.)
That’s not a good thing at all. The whole concept of two-way players is a bad thing in general. All NL pitchers before 2021 (2020 didn’t happen) were two-way players. All AL pitchers before 1973 were two-way players.
I was curious so I looked it up. Position players that pitched in 2022 had a 5.02 ERA. Basically they were as good as most of the guys in the bullpens of the Rockies, Reds, and Pirates. Could reasonably throw the Red Sox, Royals, and Diamondbacks in that mix too.
They are not giving up more runs than the mop up guys in the worst bullpens in the league so how much could they actually be adding to stats of opposing hitters?
So what is the problem here exactly?
I don’t think they are worried about adding to the stats of position players. I think the union is worried about losing innings for pitchers.
If that mop up pitcher already has a 5+ ERA, throwing more mop up innings wont help them make more money in arbitration
Last year Anothony Rendon faced a position player in the Detmers no-hitter and batted Left Handed…. and hit a Home Run.
That was a serious baseball game that the manager and players turned into a joke.
Mangers should be able to manage their 13 man pitching staff and if a team smacks them that badly, they should go into the next game with an disadvantage.
Except for extra innings, ban it all together.
If a team pounds your pitching staff to such an extent the 8RPs are tired…. then good. They should get an advantage going into the next game.
If a manager can’t figure out a way to utilize his eight-man pen, then maybe he shouldn’t be a major league manager and he should be at a disadvantage the following game.
A team has 13 pitchers, how hard is it to use those resources efficiently?
No reason to have a rule about position players pitching. There is a simple tweak you can make.
3 man taxi squad. At the beginning of every season you can change up the taxi squad. This does have to be exclusive pitchers. Players are the taxi squad earn service time and earn MLB money.
So in essence the last 2 starters (most series) would go on the taxi squad most times and you could have two RPs in their place.
Stupid idea. And not needed
Well, of course it didn’t work! A 6+ run difference or extra innings are just about the only situations you’d use a position player to pitch in the first place!
If they really want to limit it, they need to modify the rule to at least a 10+ run difference or after the 12th Inning or so.
Personally, I don’t care, as I’ve never been bothered to see position players pitch in blowouts no matter how often it happens. It’s a legitimate strategy and even makes blowouts a little more interesting to watch.
As for arbitration and free agency, are you serious?! Nobody looks at a position player’s pitching stats when determining how much he deserves to be paid!
I can understand MLB complaining, but the players? They’re looking at this all wrong. It’s clearly obvious that teams are willing to do this for a perceived competitive advantage, but what does it mean for players?
Obviously the rule affected pitchers that really wanted to hit most (Ohtani), but it also affects more marginal position player profiles that would seem less attractive without the ability to pitch included.
Maybe teams are more likely to develop two-way guys without too much regard for individual ceilings of pitching/hitting talents, or use it as a reasonably safe fallback for “live arms”? Who knows; it’s way too early to tell, but that would present another reasonably clear player demographic.
If presented the option of two no bat, all glove players: one that could play every position well and one that could play MIF reasonably well but could also capably fake an MLB RP impression, I’d probably choose the latter as a 26th man.
If Players truly want more of the money pool, they should be trying to get as many guys to MLB as possible (because even a prorated MLB salary is greater than MiLB) and then getting them to Arb. Everybody loves super-utility guys, this is just a potentially different flavor.
How about allowing each team to carry 1 extra reserve pitcher. He’d only be allowed to enter the game if a set of certain criteria were met. Such as, being ahead or down by a certain number of runs and past a specific inning, or all of the BP has already been used. He’d basically be the 27th player on the roster, but only able to be used if that criteria were met. And he’d be designated as such in the roster, before the game to avoid any funny business. Most teams would have an older journeyman type fill that role. This I’d be totally ok with.
That could work too, but I was suggesting within the existing framework and in attempts to get guys to where Arbs can escalate. Journeymen negotiate their salaries.
The game is obviously moving towards trying to emphasize athletic plays, so I’m trying to suggest a way to get athletic players that would struggle otherwise to establish themselves to carve out a niche and not become career minor leaguers.
It would also be a way to expand “roster versatility” for left-handed players, who are automatically excluded from playing the majority of the IF and C (and a left arm with a pulse generally has a job; bonus points if they throw gas and can get somewhere near the plate).
Plus fans have a knack for remembering guys that aren’t necessarily everyday players; if they’re good clubhouse guys and they supply value according to their role (even if that role is just defense/baserunning generally), most fanbases love guys like that.