The end of this offseason’s MLB lockout meant the agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement that brought all sorts of changes to the league. Financial issues were addressed as well as a number of rule changes (including one that affects Brewers fans in the new universal DH) across the league.
But if you thought that would be all for rule changes for the upcoming 2022 MLB season, you would be wrong. Yesterday, The New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported that MLB and the players association had agreed to a few additional rule changes to be put in place in time for Opening Day.
It’s not hard to guess which one of these will be the least popular with fans (we’re looking at you, “ghost runner,” or whatever you want to call it). A different one should be received much more happily, though, especially for Brewers fans.
The expanded rosters that Sherman refers to are apparently an agreement to allow teams to carry up to 28 players on their active roster in April as opposed to the normal 26. In general, that temporary roster change will be helpful to all MLB teams as everyone has a shorter ramp up period for the 2022 season.
For a team constructed like the Brewers, however, expanded April rosters would be particularly beneficial.
Anyone who paid attention to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2021 should be fully aware as to what the team’s biggest strength is. It’s a starting rotation that could arguably be considered the best in all of baseball.
You have the 2021 Cy Young winner in Corbin Burnes. You have the Opening Day starter for the past two years in Brandon Woodruff. You have a first time All-Star from last year in Freddy Peralta and a quite formidable backend of the rotation in Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer.
Woodruff, Burnes, and Peralta all put up sub-3.00 ERA’s last season while Houser (3.22) and Lauer (3.19) weren’t far off themselves. Anything remotely close to an overall repeat performance immediately makes the Brewers playoff contenders by default.
To coax that type of performance out, though, requires Milwaukee to be careful managing players who reached uncharted territory in terms of innings pitched. Lauer was the only one of the five who didn’t set a career high in innings pitched last season. Burnes more than doubled his career innings count while Peralta and Houser came close.
A shorter spring training period makes it harder for the Brewers to slowly ramp up these young players the way they would normally like. And that’s where the expanded rosters help so much. Even just one extra pitcher means manager Craig Counsell can limit innings early for them just a bit and still have plenty of options in the bullpen for a majority of games.
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Adding players like Hunter Renfroe and Andrew McCutchen in the offseason as well as possible bounce backs by Christian Yelich and Keston Hiura will hopefully result in a more potent offense that helps bring a better end result to the season in 2022. Starting pitching is what fuels this team, though, and a brief, early-season rule change should only help that matter.