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SnakePit Round Table: A change is gonna come

Baseball will look different next year.

MLB Rules Press Conference Photo by Eve Kilsheimer/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Ryne Nelson had the best pitching debut in team history. Will he stick in the rotation?

Makakilo: Yes. His debut showed his potential with 7 scoreless innings. His fastball averaged 95.1 MPH with an outstanding -5.0 run value per 100 pitches (RV/100). His changeup’s -7.0 RV/100 was outstanding. His slider had a 75% whiff rate. Data from Baseball Savant.

It bears noting that two previous Diamondback debuts with 6 scoreless innings (Archie Bradley and Zack Godley) failed to reach their expected level of success as a starter. Ryne Nelson will likely have more success than they did because of Brent Strom’s coaching and an improved Diamondbacks coaching system.

James: He will for a while, especially since the organization is taking its time with the pitching prospects and, for whatever reason, this front office seems incredibly reluctant to move starters to the bullpen before it is a season or two too late for there to be a reasonable payoff. However, I am still not convinced he will stick in the rotation over the long haul.

DBacksEurope: At least for this season! Time will tell if he sticks for longer. The Padres aren’t a team with a very good BA but it was still a terrific accomplishment to keep them in check. Jim’s comment on his “adrenaline” was noted on other outlets as well, so that might have been part of his success in his debut. Besides Gallen and Kelly every starting pitcher has a reasonable chance to be a member of the 2023 rotation, so Nelson’s is as good as any.

ISH95: Way to early to say either way. I think we’ll see him in the rotation for the last three weeks, but all bets are off after that. I’d be willing to bet at least one, maybe two, members of the Opening Day starting rotation aren’t even on the team right now.

Justin: Way too early to say. Tyler Gilbert threw a no hitter in his first start.

Dano: Given how he looked in his first start, I sure hope so. That said, Justin makes a very good point. We shall see, I suppose.

Wesley: I think he’s likely to stick as at least an average starter. That said, TINSTAPP, et cetera, et cetera.

Who among the 2022 relievers should be in the 2023 D-backs bullpen?

Justin: This is a joke right? Uh, Kyle Nelson, Middleton, maybe someone like Tommy Henry could be the long guy.

James: I guess it depends on which Caleb Smith, and Middleton show up. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bring any of them back. Fill the pen with new arms, maybe convert a starter or two as well.

Makakilo: The following six, five of whom have more than 1 option to provide flexibility that will improve next season’s results (ERA+ through 8 September).

  • Kyle Nelson, 278 ERA+, 2options
  • Keynam Middleton, 213 ERA+, 1 option
  • Tyler Holton, 142 ERA+, 3 options
  • Joe Mantiply, 139 ERA+, 3 options
  • Reyes Moronta, 115 ERA+, 2 options
  • Caleb Smith, 95 ERA+, 3 options

DBacksEurope: every non 32+ year old reliever, that’s obvious.

ISH95: launch them all into the sun. Personally, I lay the lion’s share of the blame this season at the feet of the bullpen, and frankly don’t see a single redeemable member between them at this point.

Dano: Kyle Nelson’s probably the only one I can think of, though honestly maybe Joe Mantiply as well, even though he has come down to Earth. I like Joe.

Wesley: Nelson, I guess? Really it depends on how the look over the spring.

The MLB competition committee have come up with the following rule changes. On the SnakePit scale (Great/Good/Meh/Bad/Terrible), what do you think of each, and why?

Pitch timer

32% Great!, 26% Good, 21% Meh.., 12% Bad 9% Terrible!

Justin: I like it. I like the no pickoffs after 3 attempts. I am going with good.

Makakilo: Great! The rule has parts that involve the pitcher, the catcher, the batter, pickoffs, and mound visits. Overall, it will speed up the game with some balance.

James: I suppose I will go with good. Frankly, much of it boils down to how well it is policed. After all, there is already a time limit in place on the books. If MLB had bothered to enforce the existing rules, this wouldn’t be a necessary change to begin with. But, I am not opposed to it. I am less of a fan of the clock going with runners on and with the pickoff rules, but I’m also not sure that the changes also impacting holding the runner are going to make much of a change in this modern era of risk avoidance.

DBacksEurope: Good. An eternity before throwing a pitch should be banned, just like batters stepping out of the box after every pitch or adjusting the strips of their gloves bla bla bla…All bullshit.

ISH95: Great. It’s nice that they are finally enforcing the rule that has always been on the books, even if they added an extra 12 seconds. AZFL games are noticeably faster paced with the pitch clock in effect, even when it still ends up being a long game due to offense, like the last one I went to. Bring it on, and let the Bumgarners of the league complain. I’ll put their tears in my morning coffee.

Dano: Great, assuming they actually enforce it.

Wesley: Meh. I’m ambivalent. Love that it would speed up the game if enforced, however I also am a sadist who loves all the weird tics and mind games on the mound.

Banning infield shifts

23% Great!, 24% Good, 17% Meh..., 17% Bad, 19% Terrible!

Justin: Probably in the minority on this one, I will go with good. Come on…does Alex Avila really need to be shifted? I am not anti infield shifts, it 100% has a place, but sometimes it’s just….

Makakilo: Terrible! This change will hurt the Diamondbacks more than any other team in the Majors. The Diamondbacks’ infield shifts may have gained more Defensive Runs Saved than any other team in the Majors per The Fielding Bible (25 DRS shifted minus negative 10 unshifted).

James: Terrible. It is a solution without a true problem. Does Alex Avila need to be shifted on? Why wouldn’t you? Put the players in the best position to make outs, regardless of who is at the plate. As for opening up the field and creating more action, I am still not sold that the outcome is going to be what so many are hoping for. The players certainly are not convinced, and MLB taking the approach of entirely ignoring player feedback is not going to help the future of the sport. Ask me again in ten years, once we have a meaningful sample size and the bean counters have had a chance to adjust to the new reality. I would not be surprised if this actually leads to a higher incidence of left-handed TTO and even shorter average outings from starting pitching, perhaps with six full innings becoming as uncommon as seven are now.

DBacksEurope: Meh. The game evolves and if shifts were a part of it those that spray balls become more valuable.

ISH95: Bad. One of the big reasons I was against the DH was my perception that it would take away strategy from the game, and this is even worse, since it literally takes away a strategy from the game.

Justin: Eh, after coming back and reading the other entries I have changed my mind. Bad.

Dano: I’m going to go out on a limb and call it good, though I think all of the arguments made above are valid. For me, I simply enjoyed watching baseball more before everyone got all shift-happy.

Wesley: Meh. The pros and cons are obvious I think.

Bigger bases

28% Great!, 23% Good, 34% Meh..., 3% Bad, 12% Terrible!

Justin: Meh.

Makakilo. Awesomely great! It will encourage more aggressive baserunning while reducing injuries.

James: I was a bit skeptical about this one when it was first bandied about a year or so ago. Now, I think it is pretty meh. If it leads to increased player safety and a more dynamic running game, I can live with it. I have a feeling this will be a pretty big nothing burger in the end.

DBacksEurope: Great. Not that it is really a rule I think was necessary, but if it improves security and more stolen bases, then I am all in.

ISH95: Meh. I think it should have at least some impact on player safety, which is always a good thing. No one wants a season decided by a bad play at second. I don’t think it’s going to have any real impact on the running game though, simply because the league has moved on, and 2/10ths of a second difference isn’t going to change that.

Dano: I was gonna go with bad/terrible/stupid, but after that scary play yesterday when Urena and Perdomo collided at first and both remained on the ground for a very long time, I found myself reconsidering. I think I’m at “meh,” graduating to “good” if baserunning/collision injuries stop happening to a substantial degree.

Wesley: Great! This reduces the chances of an injury, so I am all for it!

Let’s pretend each MLB team is a guest at a party. Pick one and tell us what they are doing at the party.

Justin:

  • Milwaukee Brewers. Doing steroids.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers. Peeing in the backyard pool.

Makakilo:

The New York Yankees are freely expressing their opinions about everyone and everything, with nearly zero agreements with anyone else at the party. They express an air of arrogance and entitlement to the best food and the best women.

Dano: I was going to go with the Yankees, but Makakilo basically nailed it and I have nothing to add to that beyond perhaps some invective and cocaine, neither of which is strictly speaking necessary. Nicely done, Mak! So.

I guess I have to go with the Pirates, who hang out at the edges of groups and try to involve themselves in ongoing conversation between the other guests, but everyone else keeps mistaking them for staff: trying to hand them their empty drinks and asking them to refill the empty pretzel bowls and expecting them to wipe up spills and stuff and wondering volubly why they aren’t doing their f***ing jobs. (Sorry, Ramona….)

DBacksEurope: … [Jim: DBacksEurope is clearly DBacksSwitzerland for this question!]

ISH95: The Arizona Diamondbacks are the middle aged person who is hanging out with people they are no longer relatable to, trying to convince people they’re still cool by telling stories about their exploits as part of the class of 2001

Wesley: The Mariners are the ones who never make it to the after party, because they’re just too weird, even though they do some cool stuff once in a while.