Major League Baseball will again limit teams to thirteen pitchers on the active roster when the 2022 season begins, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports. MLB instituted a limit of 13 pitchers in February 2020, but the rule has been lifted in each of the past two seasons as part of the MLB-MLBPA agreements on COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Interestingly, the 13 pitcher limit may just be the start. The league is open to capping the number of pitchers on an active roster at twelve or maybe eleven further, by Nightengale.
The teams have become more aggressive in the relief deployment in recent seasons. Cooler weapons contributed to increased speed across the board. The league is averaging 93.4 MPH on fastballs, 84.5 MPH on sliders and 79.5 MPH on curved balls this season, per FanGraphs. In 2002 – the first year for which FanGraphs has height data – these offers average 89.0 MPH, 80.4 MPH and 75.0 MPH, respectively.
More frequent use of the lifter is not the only reason that pitch speeds have accelerated considerably in recent years; Teams also select and train speed in a more focused way than ever. Nonetheless, there seems to be some merit in believing that shorter stints per game for pitchers have some role in the rise. By limiting the number of relievers a team can carry at any one time, it is hoped that teams will be forced to stick to pitchers (mostly starters) for longer in games, thereby stabilizing or diminishing continuous improvement. the quality of the directories of the launchers.
This is all done in an effort to curb the strikeouts that have become so prevalent in today’s game. Batters are scoring 24.2% of plateau appearances this season, an increase of 0.8 points from last year. Part of that is the result of the hitting pitcher returning to the National League after a 2020 season with universal DH, but it’s certainly not a new development. The league-wide withdrawal rate has increased every year since 2006, each time setting a new all-time high. (Still using 2002 as a benchmark, the write-off rate is up more than seven points from 16.8% that year). The lack of balls in play has raised concerns about the quality of the product on the pitch as the game is more static than ever.
Another potential factor for increased odor is the widespread use by throwers of foreign substances on the ball. Grip enhancers have been shown to increase the ability of pitchers to spin the ball, resulting in sharper moves and more swings and misses. The MLB has suggested in the past that it plans to crack down on the use of foreign substances, and Nightengale reports that the league has now ordered referees to be “vigilant” in this effort, with increased enforcement planned in both. next weeks.
Earlier this week, referee Joe West confiscated the Cardinals’ reliever cap Giovanny gallegos on the basis of a belief, the right-hander had applied a foreign substance to the edge. This angered St. Louis manager Mike Shildt, who called the use of foreign substances “Baseball’s dirty little secret“And argued that the decision to nominate Gallegos for such a widespread practice was”the wrong time and the wrong arena to exhibit it“(via Ryan Wormeli of NBC Sports Chicago). While the league is now pushing referees to step in to limit the consumption of foreign substances, it would not be a surprise if similar situations arose in the coming days.
It also looks like electronic ball-and-strike calling will be in play for the not too distant future – Nightengale suggests he could be in the majors within three years – with a corresponding change to the settlement strike zone. . “When (the electronic strike zone) arrives, it’s really easy to make adjustments in the strike zoneMLB consultant Theo Epstein told Nightengale. “We try to optimize the contact. So the way the strike zone was a bit wider and a bit shorter which was better for contact. Now it’s really big, but narrow. So you can reduce the area a bit, especially the upper limit, which might be better to induce more contact. ”
Nightengale’s article is well worth a full read for those interested in the state of the game. Epstein explains his take on why the sport has moved in the direction it has taken, offering some hypotheses on how to encourage a more traditional, contact-oriented style of play. The former Red Sox and Cubs executive also explains the thought processes behind the experimental rule changes currently being tested at various levels of minor leagues and independent ball.