Game On…with Rob Kriete – MARCH 17

When I wash Mookie Wilson, my one-year-old golden retriever, he immediately shakes and throws off the water as soon as the hose stops running. Without skipping a beat, “The Mook” is running around again as if the cleansing never happened.

MLB teams will have a more significant challenge in shaking off last season’s Covid-19 laden protocols. Having played only a 60-game season full of uniquely different rules will play havoc on teams and rosters in 2021.

First, MLB teams were granted extra players for the 2020 season. The deep bench was mostly used to stock bullpens as teams navigated the fan-less games. This made the new (permanent) rule that any pitcher must face a minimum of three batters (or complete an inning) much more palatable for teams. Major League managers seemingly had another fresh arm at the ready with their deep benches.

This use of pitchers and the lack of high workloads for all will compound most teams’ pitching issues. The most innings thrown last season was 84! How these low numbers of innings for pitchers will affect their arms and their teams remains to be seen in 2021.

How does your team’s eight-man starting rotation look this season? I believe that every MLB team will utilize a minimum of eight starters this season. Count them and mark it. That number “one” pitcher in AAA, be it a veteran looking for another chance or the class “four-A” (a player pretty good at AAA, not so good at the MLB level) player, will undoubtedly be taking the mound for your team this season.

2020 brought a lot of uncertain changes to MLB. 2021 will bring lingering effects from those changes, namely to their pitchers’ health and overall effectiveness. The World Series winner will most likely be among the deepest MLB rosters to make it through this season.

So, as hope springs eternal, how does the back end of your team’s rotation look? By that, I mean, how will your team fare when their 7th or 8th starting pitcher gets their Game On in 2021?

Regardless, I hope you shake off any of life’s curveballs like water off my dog’s back!

Be safe, everyone!