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3 Impacts of the 13-Pitcher Roster Limit


Cody Christie
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On Monday, Major League Baseball began enforcing the 13-pitcher roster limit that had been initially planned for the start of 2020. How does this rule impact the Twins?

 

Entering the 2020 season, MLB announced various rules changes, including a 26-man roster and a three-batter minimum for relief pitchers. Part of those rule adjustments was limiting pitching staffs to 13 pitchers, but that limit has been continually pushed back because of the COVID-19 pandemic. MLB hopes limiting rostered pitchers will help increase the pace of play because there is one less pitcher to turn to in the bullpen. 

During the current season, there have been multiple delays to the 13-pitcher limit as teams dealt with a shortened spring training, and pitchers needed time to build up their workload. Minnesota was one of 18 teams with 14 pitchers on their active roster following Saturday’s games. Now, the 13-pitcher roster limit is going into effect, and here are three impacts for the Twins. 

Roster Flexibility
Minnesota has shuffled pitchers with minor league options from Triple-A to the big leagues in recent years. This pitcher shuffling will take on even more importance with the new rule going into effect. Players with options may pitch one day and find themselves on the train back to St. Paul following the game so a fresh arm can be called up. So far this season, players like Yennier Cano, Jharel Cotton, and Jovani Moran have all made the trip back and forth from Triple-A. Players without options may be lost to the waiver wire, as the Twins saw last week with Chi Chi Gonzalez.

Starters Going Deeper
Ideally, MLB hopes to see starters go deeper into games, but pitching use continues to evolve. Leaving starters in longer might not speed up the game and might be detrimental to the pitcher’s long-term health. Over the weekend, Dylan Bundy pitched eight innings for the first time with the Twins. Devin Smeltzer has pitched into the sixth inning or later in four of his seven starts. As other Minnesota pitchers get healthier, it seems reasonable to expect them to pitch deeper into games if the bullpen needs a break. 

“I think they’re doing that to, in theory, keep the starters in the game, not run to so many matchups,” Chicago Cubs manager David Ross said over the weekend. “You know they did that with the three-batter minimum, so I think in their mind it’s for the betterment of the game. We’ll see how it plays out.”

Position Players Pitching
Another ramification of the 13-pitcher limit may be more position players pitching. It can be entertaining for fans when a position player takes the mound, but it hardly speeds up the pace of play. Teams are also required to be losing by five runs or more, so that is a scenario teams never want to encounter. Luckily, Minnesota has only used one position player on the mound this season. Nick Gordon took the mound in the first game of a double header with Houston as Minnesota trailed 11-3. It was a fantastic moment for the son of former pitcher Tom Gordon, but the Twins likely don’t want to see him on the mound anymore this season. 

Overall, teams will adjust to the new rule, but there will be some long-term ramifications throughout the rest of the season. How do you think the 13-pitcher roster limit will impact the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

 


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I, for one, love the rule.  Of course, I am old enough to remember how many years teams went with 10 man staffs and had a bench that was flexible and gave the manager far more options.  The starters had to do their jobs and, if they got bombed early, the long relief would come in until the short guys could finish.  It worked just fine.  Today, we have a manager shedding alligator tears about not being able to have 14 pitchers AND the shuttle bus to and from St. Paul, while only having a 3 man bench.  It will take better minds than mine to figure that position out but, again, I am happy with the rule and look forward to starters going deeper and having that extra option on the bench.  I would much rather be able to keep a Kirilloff or Miranda or Gordon, etc., than have a AAA pitcher in the bullpen to pitch for Archer or Gray when they can only work 4 innings.  

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1 hour ago, Mark G said:

I, for one, love the rule.  Of course, I am old enough to remember how many years teams went with 10 man staffs and had a bench that was flexible and gave the manager far more options.  The starters had to do their jobs and, if they got bombed early, the long relief would come in until the short guys could finish.  It worked just fine.  Today, we have a manager shedding alligator tears about not being able to have 14 pitchers AND the shuttle bus to and from St. Paul, while only having a 3 man bench.  It will take better minds than mine to figure that position out but, again, I am happy with the rule and look forward to starters going deeper and having that extra option on the bench.  I would much rather be able to keep a Kirilloff or Miranda or Gordon, etc., than have a AAA pitcher in the bullpen to pitch for Archer or Gray when they can only work 4 innings.  

Well said!

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I agree.  Great rule.  Reduce it to 12 would be fine too.  It's so amusing and stupifying to me how people say how this hurts the Twins.  The rule affects all teams not just the Twins.  This new brand of baseball is becoming unwatchable.  Pitchers only going 4-5 innings and then thinking they did a great job.  Burning up your bullpen every night will leave you out of contention sooner rather than later.  Managing games with a computer and spreadsheets instead of common sense and situational managing.  Having a manager that is inflexible to the game plan and having no in game adjustments to speak of even as the game gets away.  It's time to reboot either the computer or the manager or both.

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Seems like a solid consensus about the rule. I agree. If arms are being affected then perhaps they need to look into what type of conditioning was used when staffs were much smaller. A caveat though is that in general I believe pitch velocity is much greater today than in foregone times.

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Going to be an interesting ride going forwards.

Starters used to be limito 100 pitches. Some were pushed.

The Twins problem is that 4/6ths of the staff haven't pitched 150 innings of late, so they need to work towards that. The good news is that with injuries and time off and short starts, the Twins shouldn't be worrying about that much anymore.

You need a pitcher that can do multiple innings, go hru a lineup more than once.

Right now, many managers don't want to see poitchers face a batter a third time. That was once the purpose of an opener,. so your main "weak" starter could face a lineup the third time, but starting with the weaker part of a batting order.

But the key is that a starter SHOULD be able to go thru an order three times, period. Pitch at least six innings most of the time.

Then you have at least one long relief guy (in the Twins case, Jax...who pitched 150+ innings last season) and another who only then needs three days before seeing more usage.

But even using a relief pitcher back-to-back seems a thing of the past. And when you have NO closer, it gets real interesting.

You also have that 8th arm...the mop-up guy, the pitcher on the fringe. Sadly, the Twins seem to be heding in the direction that they have three such names - all veterans at the moment - Duffey, Thielbar and Smith. Two should be gone, sooner rather than later. Happily, there are names like Moran, Cano and Megill in the wings. You also have Sisk and Schulfer getting exposure at AAA. Is it too soon to give up on, say, Hamilton. A bunch of arms were put into circulation this week, and none leaped out for pick-ups by anyone, it seems.

 

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1 hour ago, Whitey333 said:

I agree.  Great rule.  Reduce it to 12 would be fine too.  It's so amusing and stupifying to me how people say how this hurts the Twins.  The rule affects all teams not just the Twins.  This new brand of baseball is becoming unwatchable.  Pitchers only going 4-5 innings and then thinking they did a great job.  Burning up your bullpen every night will leave you out of contention sooner rather than later.  Managing games with a computer and spreadsheets instead of common sense and situational managing.  Having a manager that is inflexible to the game plan and having no in game adjustments to speak of even as the game gets away.  It's time to reboot either the computer or the manager or both.

Good points.  Remember when they first brought in the "quality start" stat (6 innings or more, 3 earned runs or less)?  And they all kind of laughed at it at first?  Now if you give up 3 runs in 4.2 or 5 innings you have "kept your team in the game" and they pat you on the back.  

It would be fascinating to get Blyleven, Kaat, and Morris together at a kegger, loosen up their tongues, and hear what they honestly think about it all.  Wouldn't you love to be a fly on that wall?  :)  

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Let add a sarcastic thought that I got reading the replies.  Reducing the number of pitchers just means we carry one less lousy arm and maybe forces decisions on pitchers like Duffey, Smith, and Thielbar since they cannot be buried any more.  Start stretching out the starters.  Get the computers rebooted and see if there is another way to approach pitching. I would like to add that this hurts all teams equally and I like that. Numbers are not the most important thing - quality is. 

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The rule hurts the Twins a little this year because it rewards starters who pitch deep into games and pile up innings and we only got 2 or 3 of those type of starters. We also don't have nay starters that will pitch more than 150 innings this year as they build up so we really need a a 6-7 man rotation. Bundy may be here to stay. I do think it helps baseball though by speeding up the game a little and eliminating those tiresome change pitchers every batter innings. I agree with the posters above; I'm definitely in favor.  

Starter depth is going to be as important as relief depth because we are going to have guys go 6+ innings when possible, so more innings, more injuries, more IL stints. Get ready for more starts by Bundy, and guys like Bundy, along with some AAAA guys getting their shot. Should be fun.  

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I also like the rule as long as we do not see too many games with position players pitching.  Those are not enjoyable to watch IMO.

Seems that the Angels have an advantage as when I look at their roster Ohtani is NOT listed as a pitcher, rather as their only DH.  This allows them to in-effect have 14 pitchers (13 plus Ohtani).  In that light, how many at-bats would we need to give one of our pitchers in order for them to count as a position player even though we could pitch them?  Could the Twins circumvent this rule to get Rocco 14 pitchers and would we even want to endure one of our pitchers actually getting enough at-bats to qualify?

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1 hour ago, Rosterman said:

 

Starters used to be limito 100 pitches. Some were pushed.

 

I would say it was most starters weren't allowed to start an inning at or above 100 pitches, not limited to 100.

That is what made the piranha's so successful (and the darn Yankees) they could run the starting pitchers count up pretty quickly and get to the pen in the 5th or 6th inning, and if they could do in on the first night of the series it could affect the rest of the series (even in a loss)

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44 minutes ago, Bigfork Twins Guy said:

I also like the rule as long as we do not see too many games with position players pitching.  Those are not enjoyable to watch IMO.

Seems that the Angels have an advantage as when I look at their roster Ohtani is NOT listed as a pitcher, rather as their only DH.  This allows them to in-effect have 14 pitchers (13 plus Ohtani).  In that light, how many at-bats would we need to give one of our pitchers in order for them to count as a position player even though we could pitch them?  Could the Twins circumvent this rule to get Rocco 14 pitchers and would we even want to endure one of our pitchers actually getting enough at-bats to qualify?

Might be worth it.  Blyleven only hit .131 for his career and he won 289 games.  Just take your best hitting pitcher (if there is one) and let him hit.  Could it be any worse than Jeffers?  :)  

On 2nd thought, two Jeffers?  Let me ponder that for a while.  :(  

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Such a silly rule. The only thing it affects, game-wise, is more rules. Teams will continue to run the AAA shuttle just as before. If anything, there is less job stability for pitchers through this rule.

If a team wants a 3 person bench, that's their problem. Essentially the same position I take on the shift.

Why not limit how many catchers a team carries too? Or DHs?

Yes, Ohtani is great. But what makes a "legit" 2-say player? Matt Davidson? And why should some players get different rules than others?

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2 hours ago, Bigfork Twins Guy said:

I also like the rule as long as we do not see too many games with position players pitching.  Those are not enjoyable to watch IMO.

Seems that the Angels have an advantage as when I look at their roster Ohtani is NOT listed as a pitcher, rather as their only DH.  This allows them to in-effect have 14 pitchers (13 plus Ohtani).  In that light, how many at-bats would we need to give one of our pitchers in order for them to count as a position player even though we could pitch them?  Could the Twins circumvent this rule to get Rocco 14 pitchers and would we even want to endure one of our pitchers actually getting enough at-bats to qualify?

A player needs to throw at least 20 major league innings and play at least 20 major league games as a position player (or DH) with at least 3 PAs in each of those games to be considered a 2 way player. A position player cannot pitch in any game that isn't in extra innings or a team doesn't have at least a 6 run lead.

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I agree reducing the # of short RPs shouldn't be a problem for the normal person but for a analyst freak it will drive them abosolutely crazy because they are so heavily reliant  on short relief and with one less short RP they'll have to be even more reliant on the remanant short RPs. And with the recent problems of Duffy, Thielbar, Smith and Pagan, Baldelli would have to pitch them more often.

One solution you mentioned was to extend the rotation. Even with 14 pitchers, Baldelli has been  over reliance on the short RPs and he has been extending the rotation to compensate. This has resulted in our SPs and our only long RP to go on the IL or have tired arms which leads to ineffective outings. 

The best solution is to establish & rely on long relief especially now. Ignoring long relief causes a snow ball effect. Over use of short relief, to compensate you over use the rotation, then deplete your long relief (eliminating your solution) then you have tired arms which produces injuries which constantly shrink your quality pitching pool. With fewer quality pitchers, you further stretch them until you have almost no one.

We need some long RPs right now to pitch long, Maybe extend  Jax a little bit more to 3 innings and maybe trade for some one (Sands isn't ready yet). With SPs comiing off IL we can't think about extending them, we need to gradually work them in. We needed to have a well balance and rythm  of rotation, long relief and short relief to keep all arms strong, fresh and effective. Ignoring long relief has produce this crises, continue to do so will be disasterous.

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On June 18th 1974

 Nolan Ryan pitched 13 innings, struck out 19, and threw 278 pitches so I think we might be getting soft on pitchers. That said, I think the te will be alright. Even if you carry 6 starters, that leaves you 7 guys who can still come in to the game. Remember most of these guys were starters at one time. So the question isn't whether we can cover the innings. But whether we have the quality in the bullpen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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20 minutes ago, Stew said:

On June 18th 1974

 Nolan Ryan pitched 13 innings, struck out 19, and threw 278 pitches so I think we might be getting soft on pitchers. That said, I think the te will be alright. Even if you carry 6 starters, that leaves you 7 guys who can still come in to the game. Remember most of these guys were starters at one time. So the question isn't whether we can cover the innings. But whether we have the quality in the bullpen.

278 pitches in 13 innings?! That was not an overly efficient outing for Mr. Ryan. 21+ pitches an inning is generally not a recipe for success.

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8 hours ago, Rosterman said:

Sadly, the Twins seem to be heding in the direction that they have three such names - all veterans at the moment - Duffey, Thielbar and Smith.

 

The big question is, how many more games will Duffey, Thielbar and Smith cost the Twins before they cut bait? These three guys could easily lose the Twins between 3-5 games before the trade deadline. Those losses will loom large in what's currently a very tight race, the Twins simply aren't good enough to have that kind of room for error.

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8 hours ago, Bigfork Twins Guy said:

I also like the rule as long as we do not see too many games with position players pitching.  Those are not enjoyable to watch IMO.

Seems that the Angels have an advantage as when I look at their roster Ohtani is NOT listed as a pitcher, rather as their only DH.  This allows them to in-effect have 14 pitchers (13 plus Ohtani).  In that light, how many at-bats would we need to give one of our pitchers in order for them to count as a position player even though we could pitch them?  Could the Twins circumvent this rule to get Rocco 14 pitchers and would we even want to endure one of our pitchers actually getting enough at-bats to qualify?

Let's go one step more with the Angels. they also have Michael Lorenzen, who has played some OF so they could actually go with 15 on any given day.

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I will pile on.  Organizationally, pitchers being taught they are brittle is a problem for the Twins.  It runs through every level.  You don’t see starters out throwing long ball in the outfield to recover and strengthen their arms.  They are not developing mental toughness to still “win with problems”.

Bring on the 13.  If Rocco gets canned soon, it will be because he overmanages pitching —and is to hands off manufacturing runs with small ball when needed.  

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When the Twins won't pitch Duffey or Thornburg they are going with an 11 person pitching staff. There is not any effect on the pitchers if they are used correctly. The key is for the coaching staff to know the limits and health of each pitcher and for the pitchers to communicate honestly with the staff.

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