Previous roster rules for the 2020 season would’ve had the Brewers making some tough decisions soon. That may no longer be the case.
One of the rules that was put in place for the shortened 2020 season was that each team’s active roster was increased to 30 players to begin the year. That benefited a team like the Brewers in a couple different ways.
For one, it allowed the team to carry extra pitchers. That gave the starters the ability to keep stretching out as the season began since their were extra relievers to cover the innings, and also allowed manager Craig Counsell to utilize his pitching staff similar to how he does during his successful September runs.
Secondly, it created easier decisions for some of the final roster spots. Instead of having to choose between whether to keep a Ben Gamel or a Logan Morrison for one of the final Brewers roster spots, Counsell was able to have room for both.
Those benefits were supposed to be short-lived, though. Roster rules for the 2020 season also stated that the 30-man rosters were to drop down to 28 players two weeks after the start of the season, and then to 26 players two weeks after that. However, it appears that the league is considering a change to the rule.
Union telling players that roster size will reduce to from 30 and 28 on Thursday and remain at that level for the rest of the season and postseason, source tells The Athletic. Taxi squad will be expanded from three players to five players for remainder of the season.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 4, 2020
This move makes a ton of sense. With the amount of games that have already been cancelled at this point due to COVID outbreaks, as well as others that will be sure to follow, teams would be quite taxed in the final month of the season if they only had 26-man rosters to navigate them through limited days off and doubleheaders.
How could the Brewers roster shape out?
The ability to carry extra players on the roster benefits every single team in the league. But while the drop to 28 players would have been manageable for the Brewers, cutting down to 26 would have been much more difficult.
On offense, the upcoming roster decision shouldn’t be too hard for Counsell and GM David Stearns. The team recently recalled offseason acquisitions Ryon Healy and Mark Mathias to fill a couple open roster spots. One of the two probably are optioned down during the cut to 28 players.
Had the cut to 26 players still been in place, Milwaukee would have a much more difficult decision to make in the future. With the other of the Healy-Mathias duo likely getting optioned when Ryan Braun returns from the IL, the team would probably be deciding between cutting one of Gamel or Morrison, the latter having no minor league options remaining.
A decision on who to drop from the pitching staff becomes much easier as well. With Thursday’s cut to 28, the Brewers are likely deciding between final Opening Day roster candidates J.P. Feyereisen, Eric Yardley, or Justin Grimm.
Wisconsin-born Feyereisen is the most likely candidate to be sent to the alternate training site due to his age and multiple minor league options remaining. But who goes if another pitcher gets cut in a drop to 26 players? Is it Yardley, who has pitched well but also has minor league options, or is it Grimm, who pitched one rough inning so far in 2020 but has no options remaining?
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Fans will know in two days who will remain on the Brewers roster going forward. Hopefully the increased roster size gives Milwaukee a little more of an advantage than the others.