If MLB exercises an expanded roster for 2020, it could mean big leagues for eight players in particular, says The Denver Post’s Kyle Newman and Jeff Bailey.
Rapid fire: Jeff Hoffman, Josh Fuentes, Ubaldo Jiménez, Jesus Tinoco, Yonathan Daza, James Pazos, Ben Bowden, Jose Mujica. Newman and Bailey write a paragraph for each player, outlining what has made each a ‘bubble’ selection for a standard MLB roster.
Six of the eight listed players are pitchers. If play indeed resumes, it will likely come after some form of ‘spring training’ where pitchers can ramp up their arms; this on-ramp phase could easily be shorter than typical spring training. That may suggest early-season provisions where starters are limited in their pitch counts, and relievers could be handled with greater caution until the season hits full swing.
If MLB goes heavy on doubleheaders, Hoffman and Jiménez could be in line for some starts. Newman says Tinoco, Pazos, Bowden and Mujica would presumably be in line for bullpen spots.
Mujica missed all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, and hasn't caught a break with the MLB delay fresh on the heels of his return. He has pitched in two games since 2018—all in the Cactus League—and transitioned from the Rays to the Rockies this offseason. He reasons as a player easy to root for given the time he’s missed; his first regular season appearance will be his MLB debut.
“The Arizona Diamondbacks have opened Chase Field for individual workouts Friday as players ramp up to restart spring training.”
A few of Arizona’s players had reportedly been working out at Salt River Fields, the spring home for both the D-Backs and Rockies.
One such D-Backs player might be taking a few less swings than normal, however: pitcher Madison Bumgarner. Resumed play this year with a universal DH could take him out of the batting order.
A universal DH in play this year may act as a precursor for policy to come: “The DH is widely expected to be adopted across the board when the next collective bargaining agreement kicks in for the 2022 season. That would leave only the 2021 season left for National League pitchers to come to bat.”
Bumgarner could still pinch hit—or he could even remain in the lineup. He hit for himself in a start against Oakland in 2016, marking the first time in 40 years where a team intentionally used a pitcher to hit instead of a DH.
German Marquez slashed a .229/.229/.354 last year, reasoning him quite well by standards of a pitcher. If the NL and AL West merge for this season as some proposals have suggested, this would mean the Rockies would still face at least one pitcher in the box: Shohei Ohtani. He is listed on Baseball Reference as “DH/Pitcher”, and has slashed a career .286/.351/.532.
It’s incredible to see just how much this world has chanced since Colorado’s final game in 2019. This article is a good reminder of what is good at Coors Field, and what will be good again once the gates open back up.
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