There was all sorts of discussion about the designated hitter coming to the National League after Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright went down with a torn Achilles last April. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said as recently as September that he sees no need to expand the designated hitter to the National League, but that hasn’t stopped the chatter from continuing.
The designated hitter has been in effect in the American League since 1973. The National League has resisted it until now, but the idea of a universal DH rule has begun to feel inevitable since the introduction of daily interleague play. The current collective bargaining agreement will expire at the end of 2016, so one wonders if we could see a rule change as soon as next year.
The universal DH rule would potentially add 15 new jobs and/or prolong the careers of some veterans, so there’s obvious incentive for the players’ union to be in favor of it, but there’s an argument to be made for the owners to want it beyond a simple bargaining chip. In addition to increased scoring, it would protect high-priced pitchers from freak injuries like the one suffered by Wainwright. It’s risky enough to pitch.
The novelty of Bartolo Colon aside, pitchers hitting is generally a pretty ugly thing. My defense of keeping the status quo has mostly been based on celebrating and preserving the differences between the two leagues. There’s something cool about that, but I can also acknowledge that it’s irrational.