I don’t much care for expanded September rosters, but it’s more of a conceptual thing for me than it is about some concern of grave injustice being done.
I don’t like teams with uneven amounts of players playing because it messes with my love of symmetry and fairness. I don’t like it when someone empties an 11-man bullpen because that either denotes or sometimes causes a sloppy game. I fear that it may impact playoff races inasmuch as some teams are using spring training rules while others are trying, but if I’m being honest I can’t point to any instance in which this has actually occurred. It’s a potential problem, but my predisposition to hate expanded rosters aside, I doubt it’s actually a pressing, real problem.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today talks to many in the game who do, however, and frames it thusly:
It is the most asinine rule in baseball.
It directly impacts the pennant races, alters the integrity of the game, and could mean the difference between a team sitting home or playing in Game 7 of the World Series.
I agree it’s a dumb rule. I’d change it or make it uniform or whatever. But I really do think that the concern of folks like me should be reined in a bit by the absence of any actual evidence that it’s caused real, significant harm.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.