Adding only two players in September expands challenges

The new rule in 2021 that September rosters expand to just 28 players creates another headache for baseball’s front offices.

As if more were needed.

I never liked the idea of stuffing 40 players on a club for the final month and completely altering how the game is managed. The strategy of matching up is destroyed. Benches and bullpens are bursting at the seams. It just doesn’t make sense.

The sport shouldn’t morph into something so unrecognizable while teams are trying to reach the postseason.

However, such a limited number this summer is going to cause a lot of swapping out and some hard decisions with players required to stay down a minimum of 10 days unless the move is prompted by an injury.

Carrying a third catcher used to be automatic, but it’s less likely now with extra pitching more of a priority. Or if the Orioles need another infielder or outfielder. The health of other players could drive these decisions.

With teams fearing an increase in injuries during a season that’s gone from 60 to 162 games, it made more sense to set rosters at 28 players and expand to 30 in September if there was going to be such a modest expansion.

The Orioles can address needs but also use those spots to further their evaluation of players. Hard to predict now without knowing who’s already on the active roster as we reach September.

A hot stretch from Dean Kremer could get him back to Baltimore. A hot and healthy stretch from Zac Lowther could do the same. Alexander Wells knows the way with so many shuttle runs.

Thumbnail image for Jones-Swings-White-ST-Sidebar.jpgJahmai Jones is in the discussion. Within the organization and on social media.

His promotion depends, again, on the Orioles’ confidence in his play at second base. He isn’t on an offensive tear, batting .242/.335/.410 in 62 games, and they’re busy right now playing Jorge Mateo at second base to determine whether he’s a potential keeper.

Mateo doubled again yesterday and made a heads-up play in the field, throwing out J.D. Martinez trying to advance to third base in the first inning. A really good throw at a difficult angle.

Mateo has hit safely in seven of his eight games with the Orioles. Five of his eight hits have gone for extra bases.

Mike Baumann probably would be in the rotation now if he hadn’t been hurt earlier in the summer. He’s a possibility to join the cast of Orioles making their major league debuts.

The steady exchange of bullpen arms could bring back Isaac Mattson or perhaps return left-hander Ryan Hartman to the majors after his debut with the Astros earlier this summer, which came against the Orioles.

Infielder Kelvin Gutierrez and infielder/outfielder Tyler Nevin remain on the 40-man roster. Rylan Bannon is, too, and he’s hit five home runs in his last three games, though his average remains below .150 and his on-base percentage below .300.

Maikel Franco isn’t expected to return in 2022 and the Orioles could get a head start on 2022 by playing someone else at third base down the stretch.

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