Yes, but recalling Tucker Barnhart is not it.
So, what should be done?
Perhaps there’s a way to discourage so many pitching changes. One idea for the AL (although the union would fight it) is to link the DH to the starting pitcher: Once the starter exits, the reliever must take a spot in the batting order. He wouldn’t have to take the DH’s spot, as rules already permit the DH to move to a fielding position, with the pitcher batting in place of the exiting fielder. This would be some deterrent to pitching changes generally, but especially to mid-inning changes, as skippers would have to make multiple lineup decisions without knowing what game situation they’d face in their next at-bats. It also might help swing the roster balance back towards position players, as deeper benches would be needed to keep the relievers from having to bat.
A modest idea for the NL, to discourage mid-inning pitcher changes, would be to ban the “double-switch” solely in those situations: A pitcher brought in mid-inning would have to bat in the spot occupied by the current pitcher. This might not have as big an impact as the DH innovation, but it would target situations in which a fresh pitcher has the greatest drag on scoring, whether by gaining a platoon edge (see Doug’s recent study), or simply by being at top strength.
Other rules could be tried to restrict mid-inning changes. So far this year, 28% of all relief stints have lasted two outs or less, and 16% lasted two batters or less. Both have doubled in frequency since 1989. What if a reliever had to stay for at least three outs or three batters, with exemptions for injury and perhaps one free exemption per game? As a bonus, such limits would reduce one of the dullest aspects of watching a major league game.
If the goal is to get scoring levels closer to historical norms, the best approach might not be to tinker with the balls, bats or mounds, but to encourage a return to how the game was played before 1990. I’m no grandpa grouching “get off my lawn!” I just think that curbing short relief stints would lift the number of balls hit onto the lawn. It might pressure starters into a little more pacing, to go a little deeper into games. Whether the score winds up 4-2 or 8-5, our game should be more about batted balls, fielding and running, and less of this endless parade of fresh arms blowing 95-mph smoke past a couple of batters.
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