Phillies manager Joe Girardi is not a fan of the new rule for relief pitchers, requiring them to either finish the inning or face at least three batters.
As part of the winter meetings, Major League Baseball announced several changes for the 2020 season.
Among them, injured list stints for pitchers increasing from a minimum of 10 days to 15, and active rosters expanding to 26 spots, while September rosters decrease from 40 to 28 spots.
But, perhaps the most controversial change, other than the proposal to de-affiliate 42 minor-league teams, is the new requirement for relief pitchers to either finish the half-inning, or face a minimum of three batters.
As with anything, there are pros and cons, and those for and against the rule. Among those not in favor include new Phillies manager Joe Girardi. In recent conversation with WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts, the 2009 World Series-winning manager said he is “personally frustrated” with it.
Girardi says, “I brought up the example in the winter meetings: you have a 5-1 lead or 6-1 lead, and you don’t want to use your closer and would like to stay away from your eighth-inning guy. So, you bring in a kid that’s a little bit younger and he walks the first two guys. Now you have to stay with him … he threw eight straight balls.”
What concerns Girardi is that teams will start risking using their better pitchers more often, hence wearing them out. For the Phillies, who saw injuries to some of their most important relief arms last season including Seranthony Dominguez, they surely would not benefit from the new rule.
Those In favor of the rule argue that instituting a minimum batters faced rule for relief pitchers will help speed up the game; GIrardi disagrees. “I don’t really think so much [that it will speed up the game],” he says. “What we’re concerned about is not the time of the game, we’re concerned about the action in the game. What does that have to do with it? It doesn’t change.”
Girardi said that someone brought up the example to him that there were more left-handed relievers brought in against Bryce Harper last season than anybody; so, the rule might help him.
The new Phillies skipper still was not convinced of the rule. “I don’t like the rule,” he says. “I think you jeopardize your better relievers, that they get overused.”
“And, I think you change the strategy of the game, and that’s the most important thing, to me.”
The new minimum batters faced rule, as well as the aforementioned 15-day IL stint for pitchers and active roster limit rules, were agreed to earlier this year between MLB and the Players’ Association (MLBPA).
When asked about the rules and their likelihood for the 2020 season, Commissioner Rob Manfred recently said:
"“Yeah, all of those rule changes that you just referenced are in the agreement that we made with the Players Association last year at the owners’ meeting. They were approved by the owners, and I fully expect all those rules will be operational in the 2020 season.”"
So, whether Girardi, fans and players like it or not, it appears nothing is stopping from the new rule being implemented come Opening Day 2020.