UPDATE: So much for that. The Dodgers had to scratch Hiroki Kuroda for Sunday’s start, which means Kershaw is going back in the rotation for Friday’s start, with Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly picking up Saturday and Sunday.
In other news, I am 100% certain that hundreds of players will be shut down for the season by late Sunday afternoon. Bank on it.
11:29 A.M.: Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to start today, but the Dodgers have decided that 32 starts and 204 and a third innings are enough for the year and have shut him down.
Of course the timing of the announcement — The Dodgers just told Kershaw that he wouldn’t be starting today’s game as scheduled until after last night’s game — suggests that the innings and starts count, in and of themselves, weren’t enough to warrant him being shut down for the year. Rather, it would seem that the Rockies being eliminated, rendering today’s Dodgers-Rockies contest meaningless, was the key factor.
There’s something I like about the Dodgers caring about the integrity of the competition faced by would-be playoff contenders, so much so that they’d run out their 22 year-old ace for another start when they otherwise wouldn’t due to innings limits. There’s something a bit troubling about it too in that, if they were worried at all about his workload, they probably should have been prepared to sit him anyway.
It’s just another thing — like having the individual player awards enter into player usage and possibly even strategy — that has always made this last week of the season so darn awkward.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this:
Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.
Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”
“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”
“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”
“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”
Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.