The Baltimore Orioles and the rest of the league will have to deal with a major new rule in baseball this year that will have big time affects on games. In short, when a reliever comes into a game he’s required to pitch to a minimum of three hitters, except in cases where the inning ends. An exception is obviously made in cases where a player becomes incapacitated or injured beyond playing.
Up front, let me state that I’m not a fan of this new rule. It’s being done to assist in baseball’s quest to improve on the pace-of-play, however I’m just not in favor of legislating how and when teams can use the bullpen. But like the rule or not, it’s coming. And it’s coming this year.
So how does this affect the Birds moving into 2020? Ironically, it could make the bullpen somewhat more solid overall. I’m taking NOTHING away from a guy like Richard Bleier. Absolutely nothing. However he’s a left-handed specialist for the most part. Every team has had one up to this point. Perhaps now instead of using a lefty specialist, teams will look to just bring the eight best relievers north out of spring training.
In the specific case of Richard Bleier, he would probably still make the team. He’s also subbed as a long man in a pinch. So he may well be one of the eight best people to put into the bullpen for the O’s. But in the case of some teams that may or may not be the case. It may well shake up how bullpens are constructed.
What the rule will definitely do is change how managers call games and use their relievers. Invariably (save for injury), managers are going to know that they can’t change pitchers on a whim once they bring someone in. This will be true for the Orioles, as well as for Oriole opponents.
This meaning that if an opponent brings in a pitcher who’s having control problems that game, that’s to the Orioles’ advantage. Obviously it could also work against them as well. But time will tell – we’ll have to see how things shake down.