With MLB getting close to finalizing a plan to start the 2020 season, some more details are coming out about how it will look.
Recent reports from MLB insiders like Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman have indicated that MLB will discuss finalizing their proposal for the season on Monday and will take that proposal to the Players’ Association on Tuesday for approval. If both sides can agree on parameters for the season, then we can move forward with the season.
It’s already going to be a shortened season with reports of around a 80 game season, and now reports have surfaced that MLB will be pushing for a Universal DH in the 2020 season.
Universal DH is expected to be discussed of one of many wrinkles. NL owners have been against it, but it could be a way to cut down on injuries in a worrisome time. @JimBowdenGM mentioned the possibility
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 10, 2020
It’s important to note that this DOES NOT mean that the Universal DH would be permanently implemented. However, there has been momentum towards that in recent years and if all goes well with the DH in the NL and owners start to like it, there’s a chance that could become a more permanent thing when a new CBA is negotiated after the 2021 season.
Why A Universal DH?
So what does a shortened season have to do with not allowing pitchers to hit? Pitchers can still hit even with only half the games to play.
My best guess is MLB wants to ensure pitcher safety as much as possible, especially with an abbreviated spring training after already ramping up before the shutdown, which could cause a dramatic uptick in Tommy John surgeries this year.
With starting pitchers most likely not going to be fully ramped up like they would be coming out of a normal spring training, they won’t be able to go as deep into games and instead of burning pinch hitter after pinch hitter, the DH can fill the lineup spot.
How Would This Benefit The Brewers?
As Heyman said, NL owners are likely to push back on this. If the front offices had known they would be getting a DH this year, they might’ve gone out to get a DH-type player in free agency.
Over the past few seasons, the Brewers have tried to keep Braun off his feet and have given him regular days off to keep him healthy. This way, Braun doesn’t have to play defense and can just hit, which he still does extremely well when he’s healthy.
With Braun regularly DHing, Avisail Garcia would get more playing time in the outfield, and so would Ben Gamel. Justin Smoak, Ryon Healy, and Logan Morrison would all have more available at-bats at first base. Perhaps Morrison, who was on track to earning an Opening Day roster spot, could see some time at DH as well.
Craig Counsell could also put Keston Hiura at DH on some days, which would give Brock Holt or Eric Sogard or Luis Urias more availability at second base, all of whom are better defensively than Hiura at the position.
There are no shortage of possibilities for Craig Counsell with a DH in his lineup. As creative and effective as a manager as Counsell is, he’ll find ways to use this to his advantage.
One of the Brewers “issues” coming into the season is having too many quality players and not enough lineup spots for them, an issue that GM David Stearns refers to as “depth”. Adding a DH would add one more available lineup spot, clear up a little bit of the log jam of players at certain positions, and would still leave them with plenty of depth to spare.
Hopefully by the end of this week, MLB and the Players’ Association can agree on a plan and we can get baseball back in our lives as soon as possible.
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Any plan that gets baseball back is a good one, in my opinion. Even if you hate the idea of the DH in the NL, this isn’t permanent and if that’s what it takes to have baseball in 2020, we should take it.