Good morning Birdland,
October baseball is drastically different from regular season baseball. Roster construction is changed, strategy is altered, and with all of that comes a unique flow to the games once we reach the fall. The pace typically slows. The Dodgers 6-5 win over the Braves took four hours and 14 minutes to play nine innings. As I write this, the Red Sox-Astros game is two hours old and only half over.
Online baseball knowers believe that this means there is a problem. Allow ESPN’s Buster Olney explain:
There is a desperate need for the MLB, the Players Association to talk about all the pitching changes, and restoring the preeminence of the starting pitchers. It'd be better for the product, it'd be better for the union, given the importance of starters in setting market prices.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 19, 2021
Didn’t we already do this? Baseball has addressed pitching changes to a degree. And roster size provides a further limitation. That’s why you still see position players pitching during the season even if relievers are still unused.
Olney suggested in several replies that managers should be limited to five pitchers per nine innings with the exception of blowouts and injuries. That feels entirely random and essentially unenforceable. Not to mention, it doesn’t even do anything to “restore the preeminence of starting pitchers.” Four different pitchers throwing 2 innings followed by a closer is not better in any meaningful way.
I agree that watching a starting pitcher battling an opposing lineup for 8 innings is awesome! It gives the entire game an obvious storyline, and I do prefer it to a constant rotation of forgettable bullpen arms.
But the truth is that the hitters today are really, really good. And most pitchers are not good enough to get those same hitters out two or three times in the same day. They just cannot do it. So of course teams switch pitchers more often, even more so in the postseason. They are trying to win, and that often means giving these world class athletes a different look every time they step to the plate.
MLB could step in and change the definition of a “starting pitcher” to include facing a minimum number of batters (maybe 12?). But even something like that feels like a reach. Would “bullpen days” be a thing of the past? Would teams (like our Orioles) get absolutely crushed on a day where their spot starter gets hammered? That doesn’t feel like it would make for a very good product.
Sports are made to be changed. Baseball should be as well. But teams are not going to go for up-ending the way their teams (and possibly entire organizations) have been built just because we are seeing a few too many relievers this postseason.
Links & Notes
At fall instructional camp, next wave of Orioles pitching prospects can build on 2021 success | The Baltimore Sun
DL Hall is the player that I’m particularly interested in hearing about in these fall instructs. He has an electric arm. The injury this year is cause for concern, though, and how he bounces back could be the difference between whether he makes his Baltimore debut sometime in 2022 or beyond.
Random stats and notes from the 2021 season | Steve Melewski
All the Orioles have to do next year is score four or more runs. Not really. The pitching needs to be way, way better too, but a more potent offense never hurt anybody. I’m not sure what moves the Orioles’ front office will make to pull that off other than an eventual promotion of Adley Rutschman, but it’s nice to think about.
Dark-Horse Destinations for MLB’s Biggest 2021-22 Free Agents | Bleacher Report
Look, things are a little quiet around the nest. Sometimes we need to reach for links here. This story includes a quick mention of the O’s having a chance to sign Carlos Correa. It’s the same stuff you have heard before regarding Mike Elias drafting Correa in Houston. It’s tenuous. If I had to put money on a team to sign the highly-coveted shortstop, the Yankees feel like the smart play. But the Orioles should be involved, to some degree. They have money and plenty of innings to give out.
Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!
- Ty Blach is turning 31. The left-handed pitcher has only appeared in five games with the big league O’s, and those all came back in 2019. But he has spent much of the last two years in the organization, much of that time focused on rehabbing an elbow injury.
- Bobby Floyd is celebrating his 78th birthday. The former infielder played in parts of three seasons with the O’s from 1968 through 1970. In total, he played in 47 games before being traded to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Moe Drabowsky in June of 1970.
This day in history
This has not been a particularly eventful day in Orioles’ history, according to Baseball Reference. So, here is what’s happened outside of Birdland on this day in history:
1803 - The U.S. Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase.
1818 - The U.S.-Canada border on the 49th parallel is settleed following the signing of the Convention of 1818 between the United States and United Kingdom.
1973 - The Sydney Opera House is officially opened after 14 years of construction.
2003 - Students at Princeton University discover the Sloan Great Wall, a cosmic structure formed by a giant “wall” of galaxies.