• Eli Chapman

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt and pitchers cultivating new mindset, 3 hitter minimum to face.


St. Louis Cardinals LHP/Reliever Tyler Webb (30) throws during Spring workout, Friday Feb. 14

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt addresses one of the new MLB rules for baseball in 2020. The '3 hitter minimum' per pitcher'. All hope is that this won't be an issue for starters, but we have seen some instances of occurrence. Rare, but it does happen. A manager must tap his bullpen resources earlier than planned. Part of baseball.


MLB Opening Day, March 26, will come with New Rule changes for 2020. Review.


LINE-UP BECOMES VERY IMPORTANT ~ A NEW MINDSET NEEDED.


For some it will be a new 'feature of the game' in Spring training for pitchers, along with their manager's thought process, in mid-to-late inning play.


The big factor of this new rule will affect a team's relief core, in my opinion. More so than a teams rotation. Right-handers; and, especially for a lefthander to take the mound. To face the next three hitters up.


And what will now be a thing of the past, micro-managing the bullpen will be no longer, even for Shildt. The "LOOGY" specialist is a tag officially retired. No more 'one and done' type of managing the bullpen. And, food for thought, knowing 'who's on the mound will pinch-hitters be used more often? Yes, there could be some very interesting variables considered late in a game.


SHILDT'S VIEW IS ~ CARDINALS HOLD AN EDGE


Shildt and Cardinals bullpen coach Bryan Eversgerd have been working with their lefties to achieve that ultimate goal. Getting both sides of the plate 'out'. Shildt stated, statistics he had seen showed that this was an issue just 4 percent of the time last season (per article by Rick Hummel, St. Louis Post-Dispatch) If the team is up, or down by three or four runs, the pressure will not be quite as great for the incoming pitcher, right or left.


As far as lefties go, Shildt feels Cardinals advantage lies with their LHP/relievers Tyler Webb (especially) and Andrew Miller. Each were able to retire both sides of the plate last season. No need to doubt their capability in the upcoming 2020 season.


"Webb held righthanded hitters to a .184 batting average and .679 OPS last year and lefthanders to .157 and .517, respectively. Miller limited righthanders to a .238 mark although .804 OPS and lefthanders to .211 and .667."


I feel these are the two lefthanders in Cardinals bullpen that more than likely will be on the Opening Day roster.


Another who will be competing for a bullpen spot, young LHP Austin Gomber. Gomber dealt with bicep and shoulder issues which landed him on the IL last season and had to be by-passed in 2019 for recall to the majors.


Gomber was a solid hurler who did pitch for the Cardinals in 2018, in a starting role 11 games of his 29 games played. He was 6-2 in his 11 starts. Overall he held a 4.44 ERA/67-32/SO-BB ratio and a 1.507 WHIP.


Last season with Memphis Triple-A, he was improved over his 2018 with the Memphis Redbirds (3,42 ERA). In 2019 in eight game starts, he was 4-0/2.98 ERA/45.1 IP holding a 52-16/SO-BB ratio with a 1.279 WHIP. While with the Cardinals, the righthanders had his number slugging out a .272 BA/.804 OPS.


Now, 2020, we will see how Gomber fares during Spring training. He's had a few more months for all injuries to heal. He possesses a four-pitch arsenal - curveball, a fastball that sits around 92-ish mph and he pairs the curveball with a slider and changeup. Potential, yes. Mastering both sides of the plate will be key.


The fourth contender for a spot, will be 23 year old LHP Genesis Cabrera. However, in 2019, with minimal playing time, batters in general held a .274 BA facing him in his total 20.1 IP. He did well against righthanders, holding them to a .203 BA/.603 OPS. But from the left, he was brutalized giving up a .500 BA/1.192 OPS. Making the Opening Day roster, probably not. But, I do look for a recall at some point during the season. But, with September rosters only allowing 28-man roster vs. 40-man roster, He may have to wait until Spring of 2021 before revisiting the Bigs again.


Even though efforts are a bit more concentrated for a lefthanded pitcher, righthanders will have their work cutout for themselves, also.


NEW MLB RULE GOES INTO EFFECT DURING SPRING TRAINING.


The new MLB rule will officially go into effect, March 12 during Spring games.


Regardless of when the pitcher comes into the game, at the beginning of an inning; or one out or two, they still have three batters to face. Therefore, I'm presuming, should circumstances be for the third out in the inning. The pitcher accomplishes the goal against the 'next man up'. The same pitcher will be required to begin the next inning to face two more batters? That certainly could be interesting should it be a scenario in the eighth inning and the pitcher must continue into the ninth. Makes for a certain degree of concern for a designated "closer" to do his job, just my opinion.


And, pitch count cannot be a determining factor to retire a pitcher prior to his completion of the third batter. "Could" the tired arm syndrome kick in?


Is this rule for the better ... or just simply MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's idea of 'shaving time' for the sake of his "Pace of Play"?


LEFT-HANDED STARTER ~ DO CARDINALS HAVE A VIABLE OPTION FOR 2020


Korean native LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim was signed to a two year contract by the Cardinals this off-season. He did have Tommy John surgery in 2017, but from the scouting report, seems to have recovered well and actually pitching better currently.


With adjustments made, Kim has been able to achieve his arsenal more effectively. And should he prove to be the one, I believe Cardinals have their option for a lefty in the rotation. Which, I felt was needed all of last season.


For a full 'view' ~ Scouting Kwang-hyun Kim is an excellent in depth overview of his capabilities. Written by A. E. Schafer, SBNation/Viva El Birdos. I will be anxious to see his performances in the next month of Spring games.


Thank you for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter, @elichap822.


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