The Pittsburgh Pirates and the rest of Major League Baseball will be testing out a new extra-inning rule this year. How will the team approach it?
The MLB and MLBPA had to agree on quite a few rule changes to help get the 2020 season underway. One of the biggest rule changes will affect extra innings. Starting in the 10th inning and beyond, a runner will be placed on second base to start off the frame. This obviously changes how the Pittsburgh Pirates will approach extra innings.
The inning will then start and go on as normal. The team batting can score as many runs before accruing three outs. Then the home side will get a chance to bat as well. If the score remains even, then the teams will move into the 11th inning with a runner on second.
This changes extra innings completely. On the one hand, it is nice to see the league trying to figure out a way to shorten the games. Not only are extra innings games hard for fans to watch, but also they take tolls on the players and coaches. Long games completely throw off team’s and player’s schedules.
The biggest issue with the especially long extra innings games is the roster management. The pitching staff, particularly the bullpen, is often taxed after an extended game. Pitchers can have arm issues after throwing an extended amount of innings that they normally would not. Some pitchers are used when they really needed that day for rest. Overall, extra innings are not great for the player’s health or really for fan enjoyment at this point.
There are plenty of other factors with players being sent down, DFA’d, or even released. Overall, players often face more negative consequences from extra-inning games than positive ones. While this new rule may not be the perfect fix, it at least shows that the league is trying to help cut down on the long extra-inning games.
How will the Pittsburgh Pirates handle this new extra-inning rule? In terms of offense, there are basically two ways to go about extra innings: play for one run and shut the other team down, or try to mash and score as many runs as possible. Apparently, the Pittsburgh Pirates are planning on doing a hybrid of both depending on the situation. Manager Derek Shelton and hitting coach Rick Eckstein will make decisions on how they want to handle that particular day.
However, Eckstein would lean toward a more heavy offensive approach. In a recent interview on AT&T Sports Network Pittsburgh, Eckstein discussed how he would handle extra innings:
"“I’m a big fan for multiple runs, I think it gives you, ya know keep tacking on keep adding on. But I also understand there are some elements that have to be considered in that equation to”"
This is very interesting. First off, with Eckstein thinking this way and Shelton being an offensive-minded coach, chances are the team will try to put up runs. Now why this is so interesting is because it would be hard to envision the previous regime taking this approach.
Clint Hurdle was known for bunting. This situation is going to set up a “logical” bunting situation. Advance the runner to third, hit him in, and get the go-ahead run. However, like Pittsburgh Pirates fans often saw under Hurdle, it never works out that way.
Bunting has fallen out favor in today’s game. Statistically speaking, it actually can hurt a team’s chances at scoring, and definitely limits their ability to score multiple runs. While the name of the game will be to score that runner from second, one run does not guarantee you a win. This is especially true for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have seen their closer placed on the Injured List.