Are pitchers going to fake injuries to get around MLB’s new rule?

Yes, totally.

Major League Baseball announced on Thursday that starting in 2020, pitchers entering games must face at least three opposing batters or reach the end of a half inning before they can be removed. The rule change is aimed at reducing mid-inning pitching changes and speeding up the sport’s much lamented pace of play.

But the press release introducing the new measure included this parenthetical: “(with exceptions for incapacitating injury or illness).”

So, since we know that optimizing platoon matchups really does give teams an advantage, and since umpires would have no great way to prove that a pitcher is not genuinely hurting, I feel confident that at some point, undoubtedly, some team or several teams will try to manipulate the exception. A lefty pitcher is going to retire Bryce Harper then come down with sudden stomach issues when Rhys Hoskins comes up. On the very last pitch he needs to get Josh Donaldson out, a righty will tweak his hamstring just in time to avoid facing Freddie Freeman.

Maybe some team will do it twice and arouse suspicion from the league, and you’ll hear about MLB forming an exploratory committee to investigate, or something. Maybe the teams will be smart about it and wait until the postseason to do it in dramatic fashion in an important game. But it’s totally happening at some point.

Sorry if this sounds cynical. It’s just that pretty much all of baseball history points to teams doing everything they can to take competitive advantage of any system that’s in place.

(Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports)

Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweeted on Friday that the league will “have protocols in place to discipline clubs if a pitcher fakes an injury,” but, again, that seems like a near-impossible thing to police. Presumably the MLBPA wouldn’t be thrilled to learn of it happening — the MLBPA made clear that it’s not thrilled with the three-batter minimum in the first place — but presumably also there’s some team-first LOOGY out there willing to keep mum if it endearing himself to the club means extending a career that now looks in peril.

One way to combat the potential issue would be to force pitchers leaving with injuries on to the 15-day Injured List, but the same set of rule changes upped the minimum IL (formerly DL) stint for pitchers to prevent clubs from sidelining guys with fake injuries to manipulate their rosters — a move heretofore known inside baseball as “the phantom DL,” and, I guess, now to be known as the “phantom IL.” Also, in a do-or-die postseason game, no one really cares if the pitcher’s going to be unavailable the next game when there might not be a next game if you leave him in to face the platoon masher that just came in to pinch hit.

Another solution might be to force teams to replace injured pitchers with same-handed guys, but that won’t work when teams run out of lefties. And then, how do you handle Pat Venditte?

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Source:: ForTheWin

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