Mains: The case of the disappearing LOOGYs

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on March 25, 2019:

Among the many rules changes that MLB announced on March 14 is one affecting pitchers:

The Office of the Commissioner will implement an amended Official Baseball Rule 5.10(g) requiring that starting pitchers and relief pitchers must pitch to either a minimum of three batters or the end of a half-inning (with exceptions for incapacitating injury or illness).

Former BP editor-in-chief Ben Lindbergh delved into this at The Ringer, noting that the impact on the game will be small:

Only 4.7 percent of relief appearances during the 2018 regular season lasted fewer than three batters without ending an inning, and that includes any outings that might have ended prematurely due to injury. On average, the outings in question occurred once every 3.2 games or 6.4 team games—roughly 25 times per team all season, or approximately once a week. In addition … the extra-short pitcher appearance was already on its way out … As a percentage of all relief appearances, last year’s rate of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it outings was actually the lowest since 1985.

So, with short relief outings falling out of fashion, this change shouldn’t hurt relievers in general. However, “it won’t hurt relievers in general” isn’t the same as “it won’t hurt any reliever.”

Read the full article here:

Originally published: March 25, 2019. Last Updated: March 25, 2019.