Jason Stark floated a great idea in a column in yesterday’s The Athletic.
He was talking about inevitable changes coming to baseball. One change is the DH in both leagues. It will probably happen with the next collective bargaining agreement. The union likes the extra job opportunities it creates. Now guys who can’t play a position will have two leagues in which to be one-dimensional.
Of course, the argument against the DH in the National League has always been it robs the game of double switches and other strategies.
His idea (not sure if he came up with it or is just passing it along) is to allow a DH only for the starting pitcher. Once the starting pitcher is out of the game, no more DH. Any subsequent pitcher would bat for himself. Or, most likely, be pinch hit for.
This accomplishes a number of things.
One, it will most likely eliminate the opener and bring back the importance of starting pitching to baseball.
Two, it will encourage starting pitchers to go longer. That’s not just a nod to old school baseball but it theoretically should boost offense.
Three, it removes the burden of injury from your starter having to run the bases and swing a bat. Starting pitching is expensive. Owners and agents hate that their high priced asset has to be a complete athlete and play offense. This idea eliminates that concern and also any reluctance for a starter to sign with a National League team because he doesn’t want to bat. Since nobody cares about relief pitchers, they can hit if they get the chance but most likely they will be hit for.
Which bring us to four. The NL strategy of double switching will still be intact because the relief pitcher will have to bat for himself so when his spot in the lineup arrives, nobody wants to see him hit. He will be double-switched.
The DH is coming to the National League. There is no way to stop it. Especially now that there is interleague play every day, having two rules is foolish.
Maybe this idea is the best of both worlds. Which is why it will never work. It makes too much sense.