It’s easy to overstate how big a deal expanded rosters in September are. In the past some have argued, with a straight face, that allowing teams to have as many as 40 dudes in the dugout in the season’s final month is a threat to competitive balance and integrity. Theoretically I suppose that’s true, but it’s not like anyone can point to a situation in the past in which a team has unduly suffered or benefitted from expanded rosters, missed the playoffs or anything like that. People just like to complain about the perceived unfairness of it all.
But even if they don’t actually work any identifiable injustices, expanded rosters can be annoying, aesthetically speaking. The least exciting thing that can happen in a baseball game is a pitching change and when you dump a half dozen or more extra relievers into already overstuffed bullpens, you encourage managers to use ’em all. Like Mike Scioscia did yesterday.
The Angels used an American League record 12 pitchers in their 11-inning win against the Athletics. The major league record is 13 pitchers, set by the Colorado Rockies in 2015, but that was in a 16-inning game. Here three Angels pitchers didn’t even record an out. The game lasted four hours and thirty-eight minutes. Woof.
I get why rosters expand in September. The minor league season ends those guys have no place to go. Clubs get a chance to look at new faces in a big league setting with (usually) low stakes. But it does create a boring and sometimes tedious product. It seems to me that it’d be much better if, instead of expanding rosters and allowing all members of the 40-man to play in any given game, teams were able to designate 15 players to call up during expanded roster time, but still require teams to use only 25 guys in a given game. Before games and after games you can designate your 25 and, in September only, switch those people in and out on a day-to-day basis as you see fit, irrespective of the usual disabled list/option/callup rules.
Or we can just continue to let managers run a dozen dudes out there for a nice five-hour day at the ballpark. Either way.