Phillies

If we could change 1 MLB rule this season, it would be ...

If we could change 1 MLB rule this season, it would be ...

Changes to the schedule, certain roster-related rules and the game day experience will be necessary if/when the 2020 MLB season begins.

MLB will likely also have to get creative to complete a shortened regular season. Several ideas have already been laid out, from an isolated two-state format with spring training sites Arizona and Florida housing the league to weekly doubleheaders with plenty of unique changes along the way.

We asked a bunch of our baseball people which rule(s) they'd change if they were commish for a day.

Jim Salisbury: Phillies insider

Call the book rule high strike. It would speed up games and force hitters to bring back the top hand, which would create line drives and ultimately more contact.

Also, add a fifth umpire. Station him nightly in the press box for immediate, real-time reviews to stop managers from holding up their hand (and the game) on every play. The umpire upstairs holds up a green card for all-good and a red card for a review.

Ricky Bottalico: Phillies analyst, former MLB closer

I like the split-season idea with the Phillies and Yankees being in the same division, though not seeing your other half until the World Series would suck.

Unrelated to 2020 circumstances, my number one rule change would be to move the bullpens inside, behind the dugout. This would speed up games. Why are these players being summoned from 500 feet away?

Casey Feeney: Sr. coordinating producer, Phillies Pre/Post

Allow teams to forfeit games. 

Anyone who grew up playing youth baseball knows about the "mercy rule." So why not bring a variation of that to the majors? Allowing teams to decide if they want to end a game early would serve several purposes:

• Shortens games. Even the most ardent fan will acknowledge baseball games are too long. It's one thing to be in the fourth hour of a 7-7 game in the 9th. But when it's 15-2 in the 7th, it's just a bad product.

• Protects players. Rather than counting on one reliever to eat up 3-4 innings or asking more important bullpen pieces to add to their heavy workload, this allows teams to save their pitchers. It also eliminates the farce of position players pitching.

• Increased strategy. Baseball's beauty is in its strategy. This plan adds another strategic layer. When does a manager decide to call it a night? Is the 5th inning of a 10-run game too early? If a player is trying to keep a hit streak alive, does the skipper prolong the game?

This plan would create plenty of conversation while expediting games, both of which might be vital if there's to be a 2020 season.

Sean Kane: Phillies Pregame & Postgame Live producer

Start every extra inning with a runner on second base.

Baseball has experimented with this rule in the minor leagues for the past two years and it would be perfect for what could be a very unique 2020 season. MLB will likely try to jam in as many games as possible over a limited number of days. Off days will be few and far between. No one wants to be playing 14- or 15-inning games under those circumstances. So if a game is tied after nine innings, start every extra inning with a runner on second base.  

The Dodgers' Justin Turner recently suggested that MLB should decide games tied after 10 innings with a Home Run Derby. I'm not willing to go that far. But starting extra innings with a runner on second base would significantly increase scoring chances and limit the number of extra-inning marathons. 

Tom McCarthy: Phillies play-by-play man

Whenever we get back, for the first month of games, I would like rosters to expand to two extra pitchers and one extra position player. Then if we get started within two or three weeks, there isn't as much of an issue when it comes to starters being stretched out.

Gregg Murphy: Phillies field reporter

No more instant replay. I get the idea of "getting it right," but we managed to have a pretty great game without it for a century. Not only would it bring back the human element of umpiring, but it would also eliminate delays and spur on more epic exchanges between umpire and manager.

My change(s)

I can't get over the idea of uniformed players spread out in the lower section of stands as opposed to dugouts to keep their distance. It just would create so many new, fun visuals and a different way to shoot a baseball game.

I also think that because of the current roster freeze, teams with impending free agents should have a longer exclusive window to re-sign the player after the season. Instead of the standard five days, maybe make it 10 days or two weeks. That at least gives the incumbent a team more of a chance to make up for lost negotiating time this spring/summer.

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Injuries and schedule changes have already created a chaotic NL East picture

Injuries and schedule changes have already created a chaotic NL East picture

A little less than two weeks into the season, injuries and schedule changes have already created a chaotic picture in the NL East.

Two teams have played 11 games. One team has played seven. One has played four and another has played three.

The only NL East teams who haven't missed any early-season games are the Braves (7-4) and Mets (4-7). The Braves are 2½ games ahead of the Phillies and one game ahead in the loss column. 

The Phillies are in a better early-season position than the Mets just because the Mets have already accrued seven losses. The only two teams in the majors with more are the Pirates and Royals.

Though, which team would you rather be: The team that already has seven losses or the team that has five additional games to make up? It's an advantage for the Mets and Braves that they have less hectic remaining schedules than the rest of the division. The Phillies have 56 games left to play in just 54 days. The Mets and Braves have 49 games left in those same 54 days. 

The Phillies' first series with the Braves is this weekend at home after they finish with the Yankees. Early as it is, that series carries major significance. The Phillies will play 40% of their games against the Braves in this one weekend wraparound series from Friday through Monday. Going 1-3 or 0-4 against the Braves would put the Phillies in a deep hole from which their jam-packed schedule might not allow them to dig out. 

As the Phillies and Marlins have sat, the other three teams in the division have dealt with injuries. The Braves on Monday night lost Mike Soroka, their No. 1 starter. Just hours before his 23rd birthday, Soroka tore his right Achilles and is done for 2020. He is one of their most important players. Soroka was an All-Star last season who finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting to Pete Alonso and sixth in NL Cy Young voting. In 37 career starts, he's 15-6 with a 2.86 ERA. With Soroka out, the Braves have Max Fried, Sean Newcomb, Touki Toussaint, Kyle Wright and a to-be-determined fifth starter. Not exactly a starting staff you look at and expect to ride to a division crown.

The Mets scratched three infielders on Monday — Jeff McNeil with back tightness, Robinson Cano with a groin strain and Amed Rosario with a quad strain. Yoenis Cespedes opted out of the 2020 MLB season over the weekend.

The Nationals are still without Stephen Strasburg, who has yet to make his season debut. Strasburg was scratched from his first start because of a nerve impingement in his right wrist. He's back to throwing off a mound but is still unlikely to pitch for the Nats until at least the weekend. At minimum, Strasburg will end up missing two turns through the rotation, which in a 60-game season represents one-sixth of the starts.

Reliever Will Harris, whom the Nats signed away from the Astros after beating them in the 2019 World Series, is on the IL with a groin strain. Two other Nats, Howie Kendrick and Eric Thames, are dealing with back injuries.

Is it a coincidence to see these sorts of injuries early in the everyday grind of Major League Baseball after so much time off and an unconventional ramp-up period? No, probably not.

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More on the Phillies

Phillies Talk podcast: Any early solutions for Phils' pitching staff?

getty-phillies-bullpen-phillies-talk.jpg
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Phillies Talk podcast: Any early solutions for Phils' pitching staff?

Are there any early-season solutions to the Phillies' already glaring bullpen issue? Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman discussed that and more on the Phillies Talk podcast.

• Close deficits turning into insurmountable ones for the Phils.

• Is there anyone at Lehigh Valley Phillies can turn to for bullpen help?

• Spencer Howard time? How will Phils set up their pitching this week with the doubleheader?

• NL East already shaken up drastically by injuries and schedule changes.

• What Rhys Hoskins needs to work his way through.

• Could we soon see lineup changes if Phillies don't hit with RISP?

• Yankees could be a real threat for J.T. Realmuto.

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