How MLB Could Experiment During a Shortened Season

Chris Halicke

The MLB national staff gave their opinions on how baseball could experiment in a potentially shortened season to help improve the game (READ HERE).

SI's Stephanie Apstein, Emma Baccellieri, Conner Grossman, Matt Martell, and Michael Shapiro all shared different ideas on how baseball could improve its game. With the near-guarantee of a shortened season, this is an opportune time for Major League Baseball to be creative and see what ideas could improve the state of baseball. 

I don't know what MLB's plan will be for salvaging the season. I hope it's possible to do so, just not with the Arizona plan reported by ESPN earlier this week. There are just too many "what if" factors within the details of the plan, most notably the possibility of players being separated from their families for months at a time. I'm not going to speak for all the players, but there's a significant chance a decent amount of them would be hesitant to agree to those terms. 

When it comes to how baseball could experiment in a shortened season, I have a solution that could be beneficial for a shortened season and seasons thereafter. It's not a win-win-win (sorry, Michael Scott), but it has enough winners where it could be feasible. 

Expand rosters to 28 players, keeping 25 active for each game

Baseball already planned to expand rosters to 26 players for the regular season before coronavirus derailed the season. If a baseball season will be played, surely the rosters will be expanded for part or all of the season to aid in preventing injuries. 

The NHL has a roster structure like this, where each team carries 23 players on the roster with only 20 active for each game. The three inactive players are "scratched" from the roster for that day's game. 

The players win in two ways. First, expanded rosters should help prevent injuries. No need to go any further on that. Second, that's more on-the-bubble players earning a Major League salary. 

The starting pitcher from the previous two games are never available for a manager to use, even in an emergency situation, so why have them on an active roster? Maybe there's a player who needs a day or two to rest a minor injury or a reliever that's worked three straight games. That's okay, just scratch them. 

In agreement with Stephanie Apstein's take, I would also impose a cap on the amount of pitchers for the roster. In this roster structure, I would limit the number of pitchers on the daily 25-man roster to 10 and the active 28-man roster to 12, since the manager would scratch two starting pitchers anyway. Having more position players would also promote more pinch-hitting, which would excite many baseball traditionalists. 

Do you have any ideas for how MLB could improve the game? Leave your ideas below in the comments section.

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