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World Series 2023: Rob Manfred says MLB might look to further limit the number of pitchers teams can carry - Yahoo Sports

Author: Yahoo Sports

Source: https://sports.yahoo.com/world-series-2023-rob-manfred-says-mlb-might-look-to-further-limit-the-number-of-pitchers-teams-can-carry-021028748.html

Image of World Series 2023: Rob Manfred says MLB might look to further limit the number of pitchers teams can carry - Yahoo Sports

ARLINGTON, Texas — It’s not just in the postseason that managers have quick hooks.Starting pitchers have gone fewer and fewer innings and, as a result, have had a diminished role for years now.MLB commissioner Rob Manfred indicated Friday that he would like to attack that trend through restricting the number of pitchers a team can carry — beyond what the league has already done.In 1969, when Tom Seaver won the Cy Young pitching more than 270 innings and Bob Gibson threw more than 300, starters averaged about 6.5 innings per start.By 2019, more than a full inning had been shaved off that average.Justin Verlander won the Cy Young, and his 223 innings were the most thrown by any pitcher. The league average was 5.2 innings per start, and Major League Baseball was in the early throes of figuring out how far it could go to push the style of play toward an earlier era by tinkering with rules and regulations.That winter, MLB decided to limit the number of pitchers a team could carry on its roster to 13.The hope was that if the same number of innings were spread among fewer arms, teams would have to let their starters go deeper into games.Then there was a pandemic, then there was a lockout, and that rule was left unenforced for years before finally being officially implemented in June 2022.This embedded content is not available in your region.Yet the league average for innings per start didn’t budge.This year, with the limit in place, it went down; in 2023, starters averaged 5.1 innings per start.The explanation is simple: Baseball’s information age has given teams a greater understanding of the fact that pitchers are more vulnerable to getting hit the more times they see a particular batter. Bringing in a fresh arm — especially if it throws triple digits — is just good strategy.But it’s bad for making starters main characters, and it certainly hasn’t kept them safe from injury.“Historically, starting pitchers have been some of the biggest stars in the game,” Manfred said Friday before Game 1 of the World Series.“And I think the way that pitching is being used right now has caused a diminution in that star kind of quality for some of our starters, and I do think it's an issue that we should talk about.”Manfred works for the 30 team owners, and he said they care about the disappearance of the starting pitcher for the same reason the league implemented a slate of rules designed to alter the aesthetic of the sport.“I think they care because it's relevant to how our fans see the game,” he said.“To the extent that what we did this year in terms of rule changes was successful, I think that it was successful because the focus was — from the very beginning, in terms of developing, testing, deciding and then ultimately negotiating those real changes — it was about what our fans were telling us about the game.That's why they care about the pitching issue.”Although he later clarified that he didn’t anticipate anything would be changed as soon as next season, Manfred was clear that he’d be willing to further reduce the number of pitchers teams can carry.“I think the most direct way to get at it is numbers, limiting numbers on the roster,” he said. “We went to 13.I don't think it's had the desired effect.There are a few numbers smaller than 13.Twelve would be next.”This embedded content is not available in your region.The commissioner was also asked about several other on-field issues.On the subject of building a better baseball — one that has enough grip that pitchers feel comfortable without resorting to spin-enhancing sticky stuff — he said the progress has been “kind of a C-minus in general.” The version MLB had been testing apparently got “gummy” in the heat, but they’ve begun talking to officials from Japan, where players already use a pre-tacked baseball.“I'm hoping that'll kind of move us forward a little more quickly on the baseball project,” Manfred said.And while a World Series featuring two wild-card teams has drawn some criticism about how quickly regular-season super-teams can be bounced from the playoffs, Manfred lauded the unpredictability of the postseason as a feature, not a bug, of baseball.“If the die was cast, right, meaning that if I win 100 [games] in the regular season, I'm gonna win the World Series, I don't think that's as interesting as what we have witnessed over the last month,” he said.Still, he admitted that public concern would merit further consideration.“All I can say about consternation, because it's kind of a constant in our game, is that it will at least motivate a conversation about whether we have it right,” Manfred said.“Enough has been written and said that we have to think about it and talk about it. But again, my own view is that the format served us pretty well.”

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