In a previous blog I argued that if the National League adopted the DH they might as well eliminate the pitcher and use pitching machines. I doubt that will happen, but then I never thought I could watch a movie on my phone either.
But pitching will change. It as changed in my lifetime and will continue to change. At one time pitchers were expected to complete games, or at the least, go deep into the game. I am not talking about the old days when Charles Radbourne pitched in 75 of his teams 114 games, with 73 complete games, 59 wins, and 679 innings with 441 strikeouts. That was 1884. The year I graduated from high school, the year being none of your business, the complete games were down to a league leading 20 in one league, 18 in the other.
Saves? That statistic did not become official until 1969. Saves changed the game. First a closer usually went two or three innings like Rollie Fingers or Goose Gossage. It was not a big deal. Today a closer rarely pitches more than one inning. Now we have set up pitchers in the seventh and eighth innings.
Starters? A starter goes six, the magic number. Then we have to count pitches to make sure he can pitch the seventh. Many can not. Example: Eric Bedard. He came out of games after six when pitching with Seattle. I think the marine air tired him out.
The future will change because pitcher’s arms are being babied. Young arms are valued in the millions. King Felix of Seattle and Steven Strasburg of Washington are only two of dozens of young arms that must be cared for. Some pitchers get shutdown with innings restrictions.
So in the future a starting pitcher will go three innings, then sit down, and another pitcher will go two innings. That comes out to five innings. Then one pitcher for each of the next four innings, changing lefty for righty depending on batter of course. That is a minimum of six pitchers per game. A pitcher who pitched one inning will be the starter the next day and pitch his three. Rosters will expand of course. Teams will carry 30 players, 17 of which will be pitchers.
Complete games will be extinct and so will pitching duels like King Felix and Jon Lester yesterday in Oakland. Or in the old days like Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal; Bob Gibson and Ferguson Jenkins; Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton. I don’t think the future is all it will be cracked up to be.
Charles Radbourne must be laughing in his grave.