Three-batter minimum.

This year it will be interesting to see how the new three-batter-minimum rule plays itself out.

In an effort to speed up the games and to try to stop the endless parade of relief pitchers, and warmup pitches, major league baseball is instituting a rule where every pitcher brought into a game has to pitch to a minimum of three batters. That is, unless the inning ends before he has faced three.

That seems to suggest that the left-handed specialist out of the bullpen who has one job and only one job, to pitch to a left-handed batter, is no longer that important. 

Sure, there will still be plenty of opportunities to use him. If, say, there are already two outs in an inning and a tough lefty is up, you’d bring in the lefty to get out the batter (assuming the pitcher you are replacing has pitched to at least three batters). If he does retire that hitter, he’s out of the inning and out of the game, and the manager is out of panic mode. If he doesn’t retire that hitter, though, he will have to face the next hitter who most likely bats right. 

That specialist can no longer specialize. The DH doesn’t play defense. The pitcher doesn’t play offense. And now the lefty specialist doesn’t get to face just one batter and go home.

The new three-batter-minimum rule will force some of these pitchers to work more than two innings a week. 

Expect grievances with the union.