Are MLB's Pitcher Rule Changes Missing the Mark? Dive into the Debate!

MLB Contemplates Rule Changes Amid Evolving Pitching Strategies

by Nouman Rasool
Are MLB's Pitcher Rule Changes Missing the Mark? Dive into the Debate!
© Leon Halip

In this ever-transforming sport, the only constant change is for Major-League Baseball (MLB) when it comes to the evolution of pitching strategies. In a 2023 season that registered a serious decline in starting pitchers' innings from decades past, the league is considering some changes in a quest to bring prominence to the role.

Innings Eater Trends

Last year Logan Webb was the innings eater leader with 216 and led in general just about everything apart from Jack Morris in 1983 when pitchers would go well past 250 innings without any attention.

Many trends in the modern game lead back to the value of innings-per-start, with the added benefit coming from reduced bullpen exposure. The ascent of dominant relievers, such as Hader, has created a shift in the makeup of teams; his latest record-breaking contract with the Astros highlights their importance.

But again, this emphasis on the bullpen had an ultimate devaluation of starting pitchers by necessity, where only a few could get top-dollar contracts in comparison. In response to this trend, MLB is considering changes to the rules that include reducing the pitching staff size from 13 to 12 players.

However much the league will want to restore balance, players would have reservations because starters need incentives that entice them to pitch deeper into games. Pitchers like Max Scherzer have even argued for an approach that deals with more development of pitchers built to take more extended outings, further arguing that organizational philosophy should change along with the game.

The question is how to keep what is considered to be an additional goal of developing starting pitchers without entirely waiting for bullpen performance. Although MLB has made a couple of relatively new rule changes designed to help pace of play and game length, such as requiring relievers to face at least three batters per appearance, the bullpen problem persists.

In struggles with these, the ghosts of further rule changes are reaching impact. Whatever the cause-there will always remain a focus to find a mean between commencing pitching and bullpen arms in Major League Baseball.