Milwaukee Brewers: Should the National League adopt the DH?

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 08: Jimmy Nelson
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 08: Jimmy Nelson /

Milwaukee Brewers ace Jimmy Nelson is out for the season after an injury suffered diving back into first base on Friday night. Nelson is the third Brewers starter to get injured swinging the bat or running the bases this year.

I am as staunchly opposed to the DH in the National League as anyone. But perhaps it’s time to adopt the DH in both leagues. That was the most painful sentence I’ve ever had to write. I want you to know that. – DG

Jimmy Nelson‘s injury marks the third time this season the Milwaukee Brewers have lost a pitcher to an injury suffered on the bases. Perhaps this was an omen, but it all started back on Opening Day. Junior Guerra suffered a calf strain on a sacrifice bunt, and lost six weeks on the DL.

Then it was Chase Anderson‘s turn to suffer an unfortunate injury away from the mound. He injured his oblique on a swing and a miss in St. Louis. He was also out for six weeks.

On September 8th, Jimmy Nelson injured his shoulder on an awkward dive back into first base after a base hit off the wall. He’s out for the rest of the season. Nelson even had his start pushed back a game to line him up against the Cubs and for a potential Game 1 start in the playoffs.

Why bring the DH to the National League?

All three of these pitchers were performing at their highest level when injuries struck. All three suffered injuries because the National League doesn’t allow the Designated Hitter. Whenever bringing the DH to the NL comes up, pitcher injuries is among the first reasons discussed. Baseball purists say that it’s just part of the game and that teams should deal with it.

I also believed, as a former pitcher myself, that pitchers were athletes, too. No matter what the position players say. Pitchers can handle swinging the bat without injuring themselves. But this has happened three times this year to the Milwaukee Brewers. Each injury has impacted the Milwaukee Brewers significantly.

How would a Brewers offense with the DH look?

The current Milwaukee Brewers roster seems built to have the DH. Jesus Aguilar and Hernan Perez are prime candidates to start at DH as a way to get them into the lineup. The bench is deep enough to have good players start at DH on a regular basis.

Nelson’s injury damages any chances of the Brewers advancing in the playoffs if they even make it in. A rotation of Anderson, Zach Davies, and a mix of Brandon Woodruff, Brent Suter, and *gulp* Matt Garza, isn’t enough to help the Brewers to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Are we ready to stand in unity that we want the National League to adopt the DH? Not necessarily. There are still plenty of reasons to keep the NL the way it is. It forces managers to make decisions outside of removing a pitcher because of ineffectiveness or match ups. They have to decide whether to pinch hit or not.

Also, pinch hitting for pitchers provides an opportunity for bench players to get into the game. In the American League, if you aren’t in the lineup, you aren’t going to play. Not having the DH forces managers to manage and allows players to get more opportunities.

Plus, there are a number of pitchers who can actually hold their own at the plate. Madison Bumgarner can hit bombs and Zack Greinke is also a solid hitter. Those are just a few examples.

Baseball purists everywhere would prefer that the American League abolish the DH as opposed to the NL adopting it, but the problem of injuries hard to ignore.

This may just be a string of bad luck for the Milwaukee Brewers with pitcher injuries on the basepaths, but it’s a dangerous issue. Not too long ago, everyone was worried about safety when pitchers were getting hit in the head with line drives. It still happens from time to time, but there was a weird stretch where it seemed to happen constantly.

What has to happen to bring the DH to the NL?

As far the DH in the NL, don’t expect it to happen next season. This issue will have to be decided in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. The current deal was just signed this last off season, so we’ll have to wait until 2021 for the next negotiations.

Still, I’m not going to sit here and tell you to completely support the “Adopt the DH” movement. It almost feels like telling people to support Voldemort, the Joker, Darth Vader, Joffrey Baratheon, or worse, the Cubs. We just can’t consciously support the villains.

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While we may not being going completely over to the opposite side of the “DH/No DH” spectrum, maybe we’re taking a step closer to middle ground. Given the injuries to the Milwaukee Brewers starting pitchers, it’s time to consider taking that step towards the middle.