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OC Register: Angels reliever Dan Jennings worried new rule will affect his career

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TEMPE, Ariz. — When Major League Baseball released its new rules for 2020 on Thursday morning, Dan Jennings could not help but feel concerned for his career.

Starting next year, pitchers will have to face at least three batters before coming out of a game. The intent is to reduce the number of pitching changes and speed up games, but it could make pitchers like Jennings practically extinct.

“I can honestly say I’m glad I’m toward the tail end of my career, because it sucks,” the 31-year-old Angels reliever said. “If I was a young guy, you may not get opportunities because of that stuff. It sucks.”

A situational lefty for most of his career, Jennings has faced two or fewer batters 100 times in the past five seasons, sixth most in the majors in that span.

The players union did not agree to the change, but the commissioner’s office exercised its right to unilaterally implement the new rule.

“It’s going to change strategy,” Manager Brad Ausmus. “It’s probably going to change bullpen construction. I don’t know, I’m sure people are going to try to find loopholes.”

Pitchers are going to have to face three hitters unless the inning ends sooner than that. They can also be removed earlier in the case of injury or illness. Many have suggested that pitchers simply may feign injury as a way around the rule.

“It’s the first thing I’ve heard of that will change the complexion of the game,” Jennings said. “It will change strategy. It will change the roster makeup. I can’t imagine a rule that changes the game play itself. Speeding up the game is one thing, but manipulating game play shouldn’t be a rule.”

Jennings added he felt particularly singled out. Last year with the Milwaukee Brewers, he started a game to face one left-handed hitter, and then the Brewers brought in a righty to pitch the bulk of the innings.

“My name was mentioned as something that can’t happen any more,” Jennings said. “That didn’t sit very well. I’m going to continue to make it known I strongly disagree.”

In his career, Jennings has faced 3.9 batters per game. He’s held lefties to a .251 average and righties to a .263 average. Last year, lefties hit .226 against him and righties hit .320.

“Getting righties out a little more will help my situation, but I also think my track record is I can face righties,” said Jennings. “I have done the right things and I’ll continue to do the right things and try to get better.”

Although Jennings doesn’t consider himself a one-batter lefty, he knows that’s part of his value.

“There have been days in my career I come to the field and it’s been a long stretch (of work) for me, and the interaction between me and the pitching coach is, ‘Can you get one today?’” Jennings said. “Physically that’s all I can do and all I should do. Those days will be gone. Pretty much all the times I’ve gone back-to-back-to-back, the third day is one hitter. I’ve prided myself on that. I’ve enjoyed doing that. It’s nice to know you have the ability to throw three days in a row. If I have to face three hitters, it’s not going to happen. …

“I can’t physically face three hitters my third day in a row. It’s just not going to be an option. I am less of an option for my manager that day, and less of an option as a player in general, which messes with my career path. It’s really tough to swallow.”

While the change is bad for pitchers like Jennings, it could be good for a hitter like Kole Calhoun. The left-handed hitting Calhoun may not have to face a left-handed pitcher if the other team would have to leave that lefty in to face, say, Mike Trout behind him.

“I don’t mind that,” Calhoun said. “I’ve never minded facing a lefty either. I guess we’ll have to see.”

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37 minutes ago, Troll Daddy said:

 

Joe is a whiner. Why not have a no-batter minimum? Make a pitching change, the opposing manager brings in a pinch hitter - don't like the new match-up, change it again!

'Strategy' is a complaint used to object to virtually any rule that would be good for the game. It's ludicrous. Yes, there will be players affected - guys who are so limited in their abilities that if they aren't good enough to be useful any other way probably shouldn't be in the bigs. 

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4 minutes ago, Sean-Regan said:

Joe is a whiner. Why not have a no-batter minimum? Make a pitching change, the opposing manager brings in a pinch hitter - don't like the new match-up, change it again!

'Strategy' is a complaint used to object to virtually any rule that would be good for the game. It's ludicrous. Yes, there will be players affected - guys who are so limited in their abilities that if they aren't good enough to be useful any other way probably shouldn't be in the bigs. 

Or they’re so good in their role they can carve out 14 year careers. 

 

See: Lopez, Javier 

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5 hours ago, Troll Daddy said:

 

Hold up. I have mixed feelings about this rule, but like...I feel like impacting strategy is literally the point of rules. Rules determine which strategies are in or out of bounds. That is the reason we have rules in sports.

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I didn't like the 3rd to 1st rule (I've seen it work, and it still works even when it doesn't "work") and even the IBB rule (also seen some crazy shit).

But those had a fairly minimal effect, although again, people don't realize how important the 3rd to 1st move was.

This 3-batter rule, though, ends the sport. Have to hope the Angels win this year or they pull a "transfer" rule and scrap it after two weeks.

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1 hour ago, Randy Gradishar said:

I didn't like the 3rd to 1st rule (I've seen it work, and it still works even when it doesn't "work") and even the IBB rule (also seen some crazy shit).

But those had a fairly minimal effect, although again, people don't realize how important the 3rd to 1st move was.

This 3-batter rule, though, ends the sport. Have to hope the Angels win this year or they pull a "transfer" rule and scrap it after two weeks.

Yep. But it's okay, because climate change will end us all before 2020, anyway. (Maybe we should've used that as our opening line for a 'Throw a ton of money at Harper, Machado, and Corbin' petition to Arte). 

The hyperbole really helps here. Kudos on that.

No, the three batter rule does not end the sport. It moves from an arbitrary number (one batter) to another arbitrary number (three batters) in order to fix two problems (pitching dominance/lagging offense, and games that run too long because of too many pitching changes). And, by the way, if you read the article, it reminds you that it's just nudging things back to how things used to be before the modern over-usage of relievers went out of control. 

I'm generally of the opinion that it is best to let the game adjust organically, but this is a change that makes a lot of sense. 

And the really good news? It won't ruin the game because it gets a full-season test in one of the minor leagues so that if it ends up being way worse than anyone anticipates, they can adjust or shelve the entire idea prior to the season.

Wow - crisis averted! Baseball is saved! 

You're welcome.

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I would have compromised, and gone with a two batters minimum.

Keep enough of the strategy while hopefully cutting a little time off of the game.   Just enforce other rules more, especially batters stepping out of the box so often and curbing those incessant mound visits made famous by the Yankees and Red Sox.

 

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What it is going to do in addition to speeding things up is increase runs scored.  Which is another move meant to attract more casual fans in their greater numbers.

I hate it.  Now when a reliever gets on the mound and you get that sinking feeling and realize he doesn't have his stuff you're gonna have to buckle up.  That sucks.  Not sure I will enjoy the game as much with this rule in place in fact pretty sure I won't.

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I can see this also forcing young pitchers with options to become more valuable than veterans who may not be able to go 3 full batters multiple times per week.

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Maybe left handed pitchers should learn how to get more than just lefties out. Problem solved. 

Maybe you’ll see starters start to go more than 5 innings. 

Nothing saps  the energy more from an exciting game than seeing multiple pitching changes in a row. 

 

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On 3/16/2019 at 1:36 PM, Glen said:

@Jeremiah posted this in another thread, it's relevant. How about a rule that if you have a two-strike count you are out on the second foul ball after that?

I wouldn’t have a problem with that. They already call a fouled bunt attempt with two-strikes an out.

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