MLB’s new three-batter minimum rule may work in Twins’ favor

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Major League Baseball is changing its rules again in an attempt to quicken things up. But while the idea of pitchers facing three batters at minimum seems like it would have a dramatic impact on the game, the Twins aren’t quite sure.

New this year, pitchers will have to face a minimum of three batters, unless they come in in the middle of the inning and finish it off. MLB announced the rule change, which wad expected, on Wednesday and plans to put it into play on March 12.

While there are plenty of ways this rule might change the game, some scenarios might not necessarily present themselves until the rule is actually put in place. For now, the affect on the Twins seems like it could be lighter than on other teams because they haven’t really been operating with a lefty specialist to begin with. Primarily, it will change the role of the LOOGY — the left-handed one-out guy.

“We have a lot of guys that are pretty strong against really anyone they’re facing,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We don’t have specialty guys. We have some guys that are especially good against a certain side of the plate, but they compete very well against the opposite handedness.”

The intent of the rule change is to cut down on the time spent making pitching changes, though the potential exists that if a guy is brought in who isn’t effective, more offense would be created, thus slowing down the game as a result.

Reliever Trevor May said he was in favor of pace of play initiatives in general, but perhaps not the methods that have been used to try to solve them. In this case, he said he doesn’t think it will affect pitchers as much as people think, especially in the American League.

The new rule could have an impact on how often pitchers are used in back-to-back games, as teams could decide not to bring someone in to finish an inning who pitched the day before just in case the inning extended past the one batter they were brought in to face.

“It’s definitely going to change things strategy-wise,” reliever Tyler Duffey said. “…I’m trying to think of a situation where you just needed to get one guy out and then this lefty you put in the game now has to face Nelson Cruz and (Miguel) Sano back to back or something … or (Josh) Donaldson.”

Duffey said he could foresee some interesting situations happening as a result of the new rule, and as he continued to talk about it, new ideas of how the rule could change things continued to form.

“It’s just one of those things we’ll have to see. I’m not mad that the rules got changed, but I don’t necessarily miss the old rules. But who knows,” reliever Zack Littell said. “Maybe after a year, I will. Maybe after a year, I won’t.”

ASTROS APOLOGIZE

Days after Twins utility player Marwin Gonzalez expressed regret for his role in the Houston Astros’ 2017 electronic sign-stealing scandal, many of his former teammates followed suit.

The scandal has rocked the baseball world and claimed the jobs of three managers — and former Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow — after an investigation found that the Astros used electronics to decode opponents’ signs in 2017 on their way to a World Series title.

“I am really sorry about the choices that were made by my team, by the organization and by me,” Alex Bregman told reporters. “I have learned from this, and I hope to regain the trust of baseball fans.”

NEW REPORTS

Top prospect Royce Lewis appeared in Twins camp on Thursday, as did Ehire Adrianza, as position players continue to trickle in. Many minor leaguers already have reported to big-league camp, including fellow top prospects Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach.

Gonzalez, Adrianza, Max Kepler, Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade Jr. are among the position players who have reported.


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