In 2022, more than ever before, we saw position players pitching in blowouts.
It’s easy to understand why MLB managers do this.
If they are winning (or losing) by, say, 12 runs, they probably won’t like the idea of using a top bullpen arm to get those six, seven, or nine outs remaining in the game.
The season is long and can be grueling, so keeping everybody healthy is a challenge.
Position players don’t care about their ERA because they are not pitchers and teams won’t pursue them for it.
So, they stand there on the mound and start throwing 40, 45 mph “fastballs” and the hitters feast.
They also don’t want to throw max effort to avoid an injury: again, they are not pitchers.
This could be fun on occasion, but it has happened so often this past season that it’s starting to become an issue for some.
MLB pitches slower than 45 MPH
(not counting intentional balls):
2022: 182 pic.twitter.com/LDQcnLhw2L
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) January 9, 2023
The problem is that the dynamics of the game change completely and it ceases to be competitive.
Some people like position players pitching, but others don’t.
As evidenced by the record number of slow pitches thrown in 2022 – the vast majority, if not all of them, thrown by position players in blowouts – perhaps it’s time for MLB to consider doing something.
Options could be using an additional roster spot for a pitcher, capping the number of position player pitching appearances per week or per month, some sort of “mercy rule”, and others.
Let’s see if the league considers the issue a problematic one and acts on it.