MLB Needs to Lift the Active Roster Cap on Pitchers


Major League Baseball has a position player pitching problem and it's due to the pitcher cap on the active rosters that was implemented this season.  

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Major League Baseball has a big problem.  What used to be a quirky nuance of a 162-game regular season of baseball is becoming way too much of a norm.  And that norm is position players pitching.  

It happened most recently last night when the Pittsburgh Pirates were blown out of the ballpark by the New York Yankees.  After beating the Yankees Tuesday night in front of a packed crowd, the Pirates could not compete with the best team in the league Wednesday.  By the end of the 8th inning, the Pirates were facing a 10-run deficit.  

Pirates' manager Derek Shelton had a decision to make.  Burn another relief pitcher, after already using six in the 2-game series while facing a double header the next day, or turn to a position player to finish out the game.  Shelton chose the latter.  And that led to a 16-0 final score.  

But at this point, I can't blame Shelton.  Major League Baseball has put their teams and managers into this position.  This season, a new rule was implemented that capped the amount of pitchers on the 26-man roster to 13.  It was meant to be implemented at the beginning of the season, but the lockout postponed it.  Unfortunately now, it is in full effect.

What this has led to is a rash of position players pitching throughout the league.  Last night we saw Josh VanMeter take the mound for the Bucs, and give up six runs in the 9th against the Yankees.  The home crowd certainly couldn't have enjoyed it, and at that point, I can't imagine many Yankee fans stuck around or kept watching at home on television.  

This is bad for baseball.  A position player pitching used to occur maybe once or twice a month across all of the MLB games played.  Now, it seems like it's happening at least once per week.  And it's awful to watch.

Not only is it dangerous for the pitcher to be throwing that slow to athletes who can hit the ball 110+ mph off the bat, it is not fun for the fans.  It is the losing team waving the white flag and admitting to everyone attending and tuning in, that this game is over.  And it can all be fixed with one simple fix: remove the cap on pitchers.

The idea behind the rule was to make games go faster.  If there are less pitchers to choose from in a bullpen, then managers can make less pitching changes, thus there will be fewer stoppages in play.  However, what at best would save 10-15 minutes on the total time of a 3-hour baseball game has actually led to an extra 30-45 minutes of game time.  When a position player is used, innings go much much slower.  

Therefore, the rule is acting in a way that directly contrasts its original purpose.  When a rule is doing that, get rid of it.  The 13 pitcher cap was arbitrarily set anyway.  Plus, if the rule is leading to teams essentially waving the white flag by pitching a position player, then you might as well implement a mercy rule.  That would obviously be an extreme course of action, but teams are giving up late in games.  At that point, why continue?  

So instead of implementing a mercy rule in a professional sport, the league needs to remove the cap on pitchers, ban position players pitching, and stop this.  I believe there should also be a rule put into place that if a team plays a game that goes 12+ innings, they should be allowed to add an extra pitcher for their next game.  

Let's make the rules more player centric instead of fan centric.  The players are the entertainers.  Fans who like baseball would much rather watch a game go three and a half hours than a three hour game with silly rules put into place.  Make it make sense Rob Manfred.


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