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Hypothetical rule change: remove DH when pitcher is removed


Otto von Ballpark
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I just read this potential rule change on Twitter and I am intrigued:

 

https://twitter.com/sean_forman/status/1321455174091739136?s=20

 

 

For those who may be unable to see embedded tweets:

The most interesting rule change for MLB I've heard so far is a proposal that a team can have a DH for as long as the SP is in the game.  I haven't gamed it out all of the way, but I think it would have some interesting effects.

 

This would discourage pulling your starting pitchers so early. It was also suggested in the replies that each new pitcher could require a new DH, which would discourage frequent cycling through relievers too. So the DH would basically be a permanent PH for that pitcher -- but once that pitcher is out of the game, you'd need to pick another DH or let the pitcher bat.

 

What do you all think? I don't hate relief pitching but it would be nice to incentivize leaving a guy like Snell in the game longer.

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I just read this potential rule change on Twitter and I am intrigued:

 

https://twitter.com/sean_forman/status/1321455174091739136?s=20

 

 

For those who may be unable to see embedded tweets:

 

This would discourage pulling your starting pitchers so early. It was also suggested in the replies that each new pitcher could require a new DH, which would discourage frequent cycling through relievers too. So the DH would basically be a permanent PH for that pitcher -- but once that pitcher is out of the game, you'd need to pick another DH or let the pitcher bat.

 

What do you all think? I don't hate relief pitching but it would be nice to incentivize leaving a guy like Snell in the game longer.

Seems like this would really disincentivize the opener strategy in general. My fantasy teams would like that, but I'm not sure what I think about it as far as truly being better for baseball...

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Seems like this would really disincentivize the opener strategy in general. My fantasy teams would like that, but I'm not sure what I think about it as far as truly being better for baseball...

It wouldn't necessarily have to disincentive openers, if the DH could be attached to subsequent pitchers. So you could put the opener in the lineup as batting for himself, but before he comes to bat, you replace him with a primary pitcher with a DH attached.

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The Infield Fly Rule fixed the perceived problem of defenses getting cheap double plays.

 

What perceived problem does this rule change for the DH fix?

 

My presumption is that Blake Snell would be in inning 147 right about now if the rule was in place.

 

My question is: If Johan Santan is pitching a gem, do you have to pull him in the bottom of 6th inning when Gardy pinch runs for DH Matthew Lecroy in the top of the inning?

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It discourages bullpen games and starting pitchers being pulled aggressively early, both of which were on display this postseason.

My followup question is less flippant than it sounds: what perceived problem do bullpen games cause?

 

If it's the length of time for a game, I'm going to have to disagree that that's anywhere near the top of the list of causes.

 

Because no pitcher is going to be permitted to complete many games even if a mild penalty like this is instituted, so there are going to be pitching changes. And pitching changes at the start of the inning cost nothing in terms of game time. There aren't more than a couple of mid-inning changes in most games, and there will still be a few of these even at the cost of losing the DH.

 

Find different ways to speed up mid-inning pitching changes (cut the number of warmup tosses for a guy who's been warming up in the bullpen anyway, and require the pitcher to enter the game from the dugout instead of trudging in from the bullpen), if that's the actual complaint, and you might not even have time to fit a quick beer commercial during the switch. And average game times for 9 innings will decrease from 3:05 to 3:02.

 

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My question is: If Johan Santan is pitching a gem, do you have to pull him in the bottom of 6th inning when Gardy pinch runs for DH Matthew Lecroy in the top of the inning?

This is a discussion more than a proposal, so you can contribute ideas and clarifying language if you want.

 

I certainly didn't mean to propose that the pitcher and DH would be joined at the hip. So maybe a better way to phrase the idea:

 

If you remove a pitcher from the game, the next pitcher will take the current DH's spot in the batting order. That pitcher would also be eligible to be replaced by another DH for as long as they are in the game. You can still freely substitute for the DH at any time with no effect on the pitcher.

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That's injecting a lot of unnecessary strategy into the game when a universal DH is the simple answer. 

What makes strategy "unnecessary"?

 

Does the current rule that you can't move a DH into the field represent "unnecessary strategy"? If not, what makes it necessary?

 

Did the 3-batter minimum for pitchers inject too much "unnecessary strategy", as compared to pre-2020 rules?

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What makes strategy "unnecessary"?

 

Does the current rule that you can't move a DH into the field represent "unnecessary strategy"? If not, what makes it necessary?

 

Did the 3-batter minimum for pitchers inject too much "unnecessary strategy", as compared to pre-2020 rules?

It's being too cute to be just a tiny bit different instead of standardizing the rule league wide. A universal DH is the simple answer. Keep it simple. 

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It's being too cute to be just a tiny bit different instead of standardizing the rule league wide. A universal DH is the simple answer. Keep it simple. 

What makes a new rule "too cute"? Was the 3-batter minimum "too cute"?

 

I'm open to critiques and ideas, but at the same time, I don't want to automatically assume the current rule is the best rule, just because it's the current rule.

 

Set aside my point about the two leagues compromising, if you want. I read the NL is dropping the DH for 2021 so I thought there might be an opportunity there, but I don't know all the politics of it (why the NL would be resistant to the universal DH).

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Well, do pitcher's ever need to bat anymore. Starters have the tendency in the NL to get an at bat or two anyway. Relief pitchers...na-na. Do you expand rosters accordingly to give a bit deeper bench?

 

Man, that would be a drastic change to the Amedrican League.

 

So you now have to employ 3-4 DH's a game.

 

Sigh.

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My followup question is less flippant than it sounds: what perceived problem do bullpen games cause?

 

If it's the length of time for a game, I'm going to have to disagree that that's anywhere near the top of the list of causes.

No, it's not a time of game issue. Feel free to ask for clarification before rebutting points not made!

 

I actually don't mind bullpen games in general -- sometimes they are legitimately your best option, and can be quite interesting strategically. But when we start seeing a lot of bullpen games, especially in the postseason, it seems less about an interesting strategic decision for that particular game, and more about pushing the overall short-outings-are-better philosophy across all games. (Hence why I brought them up alongside shorter starting pitcher outings.)

 

Admittedly, this becomes an aesthetic thing, but the shorter-outings-are-better philosophy definitely seems to contribute to the big rise in strikeouts and the drop in balls in play we've seen in recent years. You could call it part of the pace problem -- fewer balls in play as game times increase seems to drag the pace of the action. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy seeing the game naturally evolve in different ways, and the batter-pitcher battle can be interesting, but to me, it feels like we've drifted a little too far in that direction. Hence why I was intrigued by this idea, which could gently nudge things back toward the other direction without being anything too drastic.

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So you could conceivably move the "starting" DH to a fielding position once the starting pitcher is out of the game, since the current penalty for using the DH in the field is that the pitcher has to bat or be pinch hit for. Nope, still don't like the thought of this rule happening.

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Well, do pitcher's ever need to bat anymore. Starters have the tendency in the NL to get an at bat or two anyway. Relief pitchers...na-na. Do you expand rosters accordingly to give a bit deeper bench?

Rosters have already expanded to 26 (and they were 28 for 2020). There's also still a 13 pitcher max rule that hasn't been enforced yet, so the general trend of these roster rules seems to point to a longer bench.

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Man, that would be a drastic change to the Amedrican League.

 

So you now have to employ 3-4 DH's a game.

 

Sigh.

You wouldn't need 3-4 DH's a game unless you're not letting any of your pitchers go past 2-3 innings. If the starter can go 6, you probably don't need more than 2.

 

And you could change pitchers a few times, but you wouldn't need to change DH until the pitcher's spot in the order comes up again.

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So you could conceivably move the "starting" DH to a fielding position once the starting pitcher is out of the game, since the current penalty for using the DH in the field is that the pitcher has to bat or be pinch hit for.

I actually didn't say anything about moving the DH to the field. This is just a discussion, so if you see an opportunity to add or clarify anything, feel free!

 

This rule could replace the old DH rule so you wouldn't necessarily be bound by any of it. I guess as I phrased it above, the current DH would be removed from the game when you make a pitching change, so there wouldn't be an opportunity to shift him into the field. But I'm open to suggestions and brainstorming!

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spycake, I think the title of this thread may be inaccurate. The title makes it sound like a team puts a new DH in the game with each new pitcher. Unless I read things wrong, my understanding of the proposal is that the DH rule would only be in effect while the starting pitcher is in the game. After the starting pitcher is removed there is no DH for the rest of the game.

Either way I think just installing universal DH makes more sense.

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spycake, I think the title of this thread may be inaccurate. The title makes it sound like a team puts a new DH in the game with each new pitcher. Unless I read things wrong, my understanding of the proposal is that the DH rule would only be in effect while the starting pitcher is in the game. After the starting pitcher is removed there is no DH for the rest of the game.

There is no official proposal or anything. It’s just an idea. The idea in the tweet seemed to be as you described, but as I mention in my first post, it is considered in the tweet replies that the DH in general wouldn’t have to be lost, just that specific DH.

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Anyhoo, if it's an aesthetic thing only, I find the cure worse than the disease by that metric as well.

 

Just curious: do you like the current pace of action? Meaning, high levels of strikeouts, and low levels of balls in play? If you don’t think there is any meaningful level of disease, then of course any kind of cure is going to be unnecessary.

 

I’m not prepared to quit the sport over it or anything, but I would like to see some efforts to address those issues. This seemed like a nudge in that direction, less extreme than other proposals, and it seemed like it complemented recent changes like roster expansion, limit on rostered pitchers, and even the 3 batter minimum and maybe even the attempt to get the DH permanently accepted in the NL. Plus the apparent reluctance to reduce time of game — what can we do to improve pace / increase action within that time of game?

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On a practical level, you figure that the union would go to bat for veterans like Nelson Cruz and oppose such a proposal. Although if it permanently expands the DH to the NL, and comes with an extra bench spot... maybe there is a point where they go along with it? I’m not even quite clear on what new rules need union approval.

 

But both players and owners probably have enough conflict right now without introducing any more! (I would still like to see a meaningful pitch clock though, even though I know that is just another aesthetic fantasy :) )

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This is a discussion more than a proposal, so you can contribute ideas and clarifying language if you want.

 

I certainly didn't mean to propose that the pitcher and DH would be joined at the hip. So maybe a better way to phrase the idea:

 

If you remove a pitcher from the game, the next pitcher will take the current DH's spot in the batting order. That pitcher would also be eligible to be replaced by another DH for as long as they are in the game. You can still freely substitute for the DH at any time with no effect on the pitcher.

 

I guess I didn't realize this part was your proposal, I thought it was something that was being discussed league wide. 

 

But I must be missing something, I assumed most of these replies were in response to that Tweet you included in the OP, not a direct rebuttal of your proposals. Mine was anyway.

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Just curious: do you like the current pace of action? Meaning, high levels of strikeouts, and low levels of balls in play? If you don’t think there is any meaningful level of disease, then of course any kind of cure is going to be unnecessary.

I’m not prepared to quit the sport over it or anything, but I would like to see some efforts to address those issues. This seemed like a nudge in that direction, less extreme than other proposals, and it seemed like it complemented recent changes like roster expansion, limit on rostered pitchers, and even the 3 batter minimum and maybe even the attempt to get the DH permanently accepted in the NL. Plus the apparent reluctance to reduce time of game — what can we do to improve pace / increase action within that time of game?

To answer your last question, the goal to me would be to have more playable balls hit by batters. My idea would have three parts.

One, a larger strike zone so batters would swing at more pitches. Two, a lower mound to negate the advantage pitchers would gain with a larger strike zone. Three, baseballs that are softer and/or have more air resistance to make home runs less frequent.

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"To answer your last question, the goal to me would be to have more playable balls hit by batters. My idea would have three parts..."

 

To address this issue, I'd start with the electronic strike zone. A fixed, consistent strike zone would give both batters and pitchers a steady baseline for balls and strikes. Right now, however accurate the pitcher or however good the batter's eye, neither can be confident in what they're seeing due to the variability between umpires and even pitch to pitch. 

 

I'm also in favor of eliminating the DH in both leagues rather than complicating the rules. When a hitter's too old or slow to field a position they don't belong in the league. To put it another way, rather than make managers choose between hitting and pitching game to game with DH contingencies, make them choose between hitting and fielding during roster construction. 

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I guess I didn't realize this part was your proposal, I thought it was something that was being discussed league wide. 

 

But I must be missing something, I assumed most of these replies were in response to that Tweet you included in the OP, not a direct rebuttal of your proposals. Mine was anyway.

Sorry, I didn't mean to mislead. I edited the thread title for a little bit of clarity, maybe?

 

As far as I know, there is no ongoing discussion about this. Jayson Stark called it "one possible wrinkle that has been kicked around in behind-the-scene brainstorming sessions" last winter, but that's about the extent of it.

 

https://theathletic.com/1521278/2020/01/10/stark-realignment-robots-and-the-universal-dh-what-baseball-will-be-like-at-the-end-of-this-decade/

 

FWIW, my proposal is basically the same as the tweeted one, except I add the wrinkle that you can PH for the pitcher and that PH can stay in the lineup as long as that pitcher stays in the game. 

So you could still do openers, and have long relievers, etc. Although when you have a succession of 1-inning relievers, like at the end of many games today, that wouldn't matter much. (For all we know, this could have been part of the "wrinkle" last winter that simply wasn't relayed to or reported by Stark.)

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To answer your last question, the goal to me would be to have more playable balls hit by batters. My idea would have three parts.

One, a larger strike zone so batters would swing at more pitches. Two, a lower mound to negate the advantage pitchers would gain with a larger strike zone. Three, baseballs that are softer and/or have more air resistance to make home runs less frequent.

I'm open to those ideas too! And I think they might be reasonably achievable:

 

1. As noted by another poster, maybe a fully automated strike zone would effectively be a larger zone. This seems like a realistic goal.

 

2. There is at least precedent for lowering the mound height, although I am sure pitchers would object.

 

3. Explicitly changing the baseballs would probably cause a lot of controversy -- but like the strike zone point above, standardizing the quality control around such a ball would probably be welcomed after the ball issues of the past few years, and might achieve the same objective.

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