Edwards: The three batter minimum rule’s biggest dilemma

From Craig Edwards at FanGraphs on March 10, 2020:

The three-batter minimum rule is coming to a regular season game near you in just a couple weeks. The stated desire of the rule is to reduce those time-consuming and action-relieving breaks late in games as a parade of relievers come in to get just a couple of outs. (The rule, for those who need a refresher, requires pitchers to either face a minimum of three batters in an appearance or pitch to the end of a half-inning, with some exceptions allowed for injury and illness.) If pitchers are forced to stay in games, then we’ll end up with fewer pitching changes and fewer breaks. That’s the idea, anyway. Ben Clemens took a look back in December and found that the number of times the rule would have actually come into effect in 2019 was actually pretty minimal. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be an effect on strategy.

Over at The Athletic, Jayson Stark talked with multiple managers to get a handle on how much they’ll have to plan, and to figure out how the new rule could affect deployments when it comes to lineups, pinch hitters, and when to use relievers. It seems the rule will invite intentional walks and, as Buster Olney had previously mentioned, mid-batter pitching changes as pitching the last ball to a batter in a walk gets a pitcher credit for facing a batter. In some cases, this could even result in the return of pitchers using four actual pitches to intentionally walk a batter in order to set up the next reliever to come in before the intentional walk is complete.

Read the full article here: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-three-batter-minimum-rules-biggest-dilemma/

Originally published: March 10, 2020. Last Updated: March 10, 2020.