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Bud Black’s pitching decisions are a lot easier with a DH

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Saturday, July 11, 2020

‘I’ll miss the National League game’: NL managers weigh in on the universal DH | ESPN

Bud Black on the universal designated hitter: “This might be a good thing really in the long run.”

ESPN’s Marly Rivera writes this piece featuring quotes from all 15 National League managers. Black speaks on his own playing career as a pitcher, as well as his traditionalist views. “I grew to love the four years I was with the Giants [as a player], just the strategy that managers and coaches have to work through.”

Managing a big league pitching staff comes with challenges when games are frequent and rest can be limited. That difficulty is only furthered when a pinch hit opportunity could be ruled more valuable than another inning from a starting pitcher. Black will have the luxury of keeping his starters in the game without pressures of a situation on offense—a decision that could preserve a bullpen that Colorado has invested heavily in.

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo points out how the DH can add “a lot of excitement with another big bat inserted into the lineup.” The Rockies’ acquisition of Matt Kemp could have been motivated for this very reason. Whether it be Kemp, Murphy, Blackmon or any other Rockie playing as the DH in 2020, the additional power reasons well in a hitter-friendly ballpark.

Kemp’s signing is relatively similar to the 2009 addition of Jason Giambi. This time, however, there could be a spot in the starting lineup for such firepower; Giambi was often used simply as a slugging pinch hitter off the bench.

Same risk, less pay | Beyond the Box Score (SB Nation)

Health risks exist for all players, but some are getting paid far more than others to face those risks at MLB summer camps. “Players on the 60-man but not already on the 40-man will be paid minor league wages.”

Author Bill Thompson speaks out against the low wages that players 41-60 in the player pool are facing: “There’s no reason that at the bare minimum these players shouldn’t be making a livable wage instead of the poverty-level wages that are their minor league contracts.”

As minor league players fight to prove themselves and climb the ladder toward the big leagues, opting out of 2020 would prevent them from showcasing their skills under team evaluation. If a minor leaguer feels like they need to opt out, they may not have the freedom to make that decision quite like an established big leaguer does.

Giants’ Buster Posey opts out of 2020 MLB season, citing newborns’ health | ESPN

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey is the latest player in the NL West to opt out of the 2020 season, joining Ian Desmond, David Price and Mike Leake. Posey and his wife Kristen finalized their adoption of twin daughters this week. The twins were born prematurely last Friday, and will have “weakened immune systems for the next few months.”

To bunt, or not? How to handle new rule in extras | MLB.com

“Overall, it seems like the best thing to do is to do nothing. The best thing to do is to let players play baseball.”

A new rule change in 2020 will attempt to shorten games that go into extra innings. The measure is a variation of the ‘California tie-breaker’ occasionally seen in amateur ranks; a runner will start each half inning on second base.

(*If the ‘placed’ runner scores, the run is unearned.)

The rule may call for a sacrifice bunt to put a runner on third. By using Tom Tango’s Run Expectancy Matrix (from 2010-2015), one can see that moving that runner to third actually decreases the expected number of runs scored:

  • Expected runs, runner on 2nd, no outs: 1.10
  • Expected runs, runner on 3rd, one out: 0.95

Tango’s table also includes a chart for the percent chance a single run will score. This suggests a successful bunt is (marginally) worth it.

  • Runner on 2nd, no outs: 61.4 percent
  • Runner on 3rd, one out: 66.0 percent

This implies the bunt actually is successful, which can be a task in itself.

“Again, there are exceptions. Maybe your pitcher is an extreme ground baller, and the batter is, too. Maybe the leadoff hitter is a superstar, on the level of a Trout or a Yelich, and the following hitters are far weaker.”

Maybe it’s Garrett Hampson standing on 2nd and he just tries to steal third.

There are great moments in Rockies history that have taken place deep into extras, like when Matt Holliday touched home in the 2007 Wild Card, or the infamous Ryan Spilborghs walk-off grand slam in 2009. Had this rule been implemented in those years, such moments may have never happened.

(My five-year-old self is opposed to the rule change. I would dream of a 25-inning game where everybody left and I could go home with all the foul balls I could carry.)

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