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.
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.