Yankees Pitch Usage of Seven-Inning Doubleheaders Beyond 2020 Season
Fresh off a 3-1 victory over the Phillies on Wednesday night, Yankees' outfielder Mike Tauchman plopped into his seat in the postgame Zoom room, visibly in good spirits.
Tauchman and the Yankees had just wrapped up their first experience with MLB's new seven-inning doubleheaders, making up a game previously postponed by inclement weather earlier in the afternoon.
Considering Tauchman had stroked a go-ahead RBI double to clinch the win in Game 2 just moments before addressing the media, spotting a smile on his face was no surprise. The part of the presser that garnered the most enthusiasm from the outfielder, however, was a question about his take on the doubleheader's format.
"I'm kinda all for it," he said. "I wouldn't be opposed to a seven-inning doubleheader every single Sunday and every single Monday off going forward. I'm just saying."
That's right. Not only is the speedster a fan of baseball's double features, but he'd support the prospect of bringing the format back for years to come even after Major League Baseball leaves 2020 in the rearview mirror.
Turns out, he's not alone in the Bombers' clubhouse.
"Yeah," first baseman said on the notion of playing seven-inning doubleheaders beyond this summer. "I don't know if that'll happen, but it doesn't bother me. It's always nice because especially now with the expanded rosters which won't be next year but you get guys that aren't getting at-bats playing time too."
This praise of a new rule comes one week after veteran reliever Adam Ottavino articulated that he wasn't thrilled with MLB's decision to change the length of ball games.
"I like nine and nine personally," Ottavino said. "I don't want to be marginalized out of the game, once we go seven inning games, it's a slippery slope there and maybe there's no more relief pitchers or something like that."
His fears came to life to a certain extent in Game 2 on Wednesday as Ottavino was called upon to finish the sixth inning, facing one batter. It was a save situation in the following frame so Ottavino's night was done after just three pitches.
The arm that came in to replace him — closer Zack Britton — acknowledged the change, but explained that the only real change presented by a pair of shortened games is when he begins preparing to come into the ballgame. Even the time of game isn't different.
"I don't mind it. It seemed like the game was just as long as a nine inning, but I think overall it just makes sense with what we're dealing with this season," Britton said.
The Bombers will play its second twin bill of the week on Saturday in Tampa Bay due to coronavirus-induced postponements from the previous week. Amid a stretch of seven games in five days, Voit singled out the impact that seven-inning doubleheaders can have on pitching staffs and all players in general when it comes to workload and steering clear from injuries.
"It's not as much wear and tear as the nine and nine," the slugger said. "It goes quick ... I think it's something that starting pitchers like because they have a chance to throw 75 to 80 pitches and obviously every pitcher wants to go a [complete game]. It's different, I like it a lot, I think it's good for the players and injury prevention too."
That wasn't the case for New York's hurlers on Wednesday, but a 'CG' in the box score in a seven-inning game is something baseball fans could see more often throughout the regular season when aces are lined up to start with six fewer outs necessary to pitch the entire game.
Cincinatti's right-hander Trevor Bauer pitched a complete-game shutout on Sunday, allowing just two hits over seven frames. With Yankees' ace Gerrit Cole scheduled to start on Saturday, the same situation is certainly a possibility.
On offense, as Tauchman notes, the only change that a seven-inning game brings to the table is hightened intensity during early-inning at-bats. In reality, that doesn't change much for New York's hitters at all.
"There's a little bit more pressure to execute," he explained. "Two less times at the plate, you've got to get your runs when you can, but our mentality is to score every inning so it doesn't really change too much for us."
New York split the twin bill, falling in Game 1 by the score of 11-7. Had that game been nine innings, there's a chance the Bombers' high-octane offense could've completed the comeback — as New York had scored four in the final frame to cut Philadelphia's lead to just four and had drastically shifted the contest's momentum.
With that in mind, and just moments after watching Tauchman's timely RBI double in the seventh inning of the nightcap, Yankees' manager Aaron Boone had this to say on the doubleheader format:
"I though the first one was too short and then this one was just right."
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