I’m going to be accused of American League bias.
I don’t care.
A universal designated hitter is coming to Major League Baseball in 2020 and 2021. If owners get their way, of course. It’s in the proposal - or the agreement, depending on which term you’ve adopted.
There’s a sense that the new rule will carry beyond 2021. That pitchers will keep their bats in the rack except for extreme circumstances.
Who’s shedding tears? The purists who will miss a .050 hitter bunting the ball foul?
I’m always amused by articles that praise pitchers who aren’t pushovers at the plate. You know, the guys who carry their average above .100. As if it’s Silver Slugger-worthy.
It’s still bad, folks.
Sure, I’ll miss the rush of watching a manager execute a double-switch, but it’s up to us to fill the void.
The AL managers always feel at a disadvantage during interleague play in National League ballparks. They lose the DH and pray that their pitchers don’t get hurt. A few rounds of batting practice leading up to a series don’t level the field.
I sat in the press box at SunTrust Park in Atlanta on June 23, 2018 when Dylan Bundy sprained his left ankle while rounding third base. He was 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA and 0.988 WHIP in four starts that month and opponents batted .186/.255/.289. He surrendered only two home runs, compared to 13 in his six May outings.
Bundy was on a roll. Then he rolled the ankle.
The Orioles placed Bundy on the disabled list and he posted an 8.38 ERA and 1.500 WHIP in four July starts and a 9.24 ERA and 1.974 WHIP in five August games. He allowed a combined 16 home runs.
Bundy kept insisting that it was purely coincidence. Maybe so. But he wasn’t the same after his trip around the bases.
This is just one example.
Orioles pitchers love taking batting practice and bragging about their hitting prowess. The warehouse is in danger of losing a few windows, according to these guys.
Wei-Yin Chen would rather have his teeth pulled than be forced to hit. He went 0-for-6 with the Orioles and 7-for-97 with the Marlins, who switched him from left-handed to right-handed at the plate.
Chen was 0-for-51 in the U.S. before reaching on a four-hopper to shortstop - Statcast registered the exit velocity at 65 mph - in an April 7, 2017 game against the Mets. Chen stuck out his tongue as he crossed first base. The Marlins saved the ball for him.
It was the longest hitless streak to start a major league career since Jon Lester was 0-for-66.
Dan Straily was 10-for-141 with 95 strikeouts before heading to Korea, but another former Orioles pitcher, Andrew Cashner, actually has been used as a pinch-hitter on multiple occasions, as well as a pinch-runner, and went 13-for-53 (.245) with a double and home run back in 2013.
John Means had three plate appearances as a rookie last season and went 1-for-1 with a walk. He reached on an infield hit in the third inning of a July 24 game in Arizona. Carson Kelly smacked a three-run homer off him in the fourth.
Might have been purely coincidence.
Alex Cobb, who had been projected to follow Means in the rotation this summer, is 2-for-23 with a double. Asher Wojciechowski is 1-for-15 with 12 strikeouts and Tommy Milone is 7-for-45, though he did hit a home run on the first pitch of his first major league at-bat.
Wade LeBlanc, who was expected to be wedged between Wojciechowski and Milone in the rotation, is a career .250/.280/.258 hitter in 142 plate appearances spread over 11 seasons. The University of Alabama alum was 8-for-22 (.364) with the Padres in 2011.
Better than rolling an ankle.