Today on Twitter Justin Turner (@redturn2) shared his thoughts on handling extra innings in the 2020 season. Due to the fact that the ramp-up period whenever the season starts will be very short, Turner suggested that since starting pitchers likely will only go 4-5 innings for a few weeks, games that would normally head into extra innings would be decided through a home run derby.
Turner countered some fan backlash to this idea by making some insightful points about why regular extra innings might be detrimental to teams in a shortened season, including the amount of double headers and fewer off-days resulting in long relievers entering what could be a 7-man rotation. Without long-relievers like Ross Stripling to pitch for 2-3 innings in a tie game, Turner asserted that it doesn’t really make sense for games to go into extra innings. Even with an expanded roster, he pointed out that a team’s pitching staff would be extremely depleted after a 15-or-so-inning game. He added that the hitting coach or another staff member would throw the derby, so presumably no pitcher would be given a win or loss and no earned runs would be charged.
Personally, I prefer regular extra innings, but I don’t think it’s feasible at this point. MLB needs to make up as many games as possible and I would actually prefer this as an exciting alternative to starting a runner on 2nd after the 9th inning or a weird change to baseball as we know it. I think that doing something totally different like this could be a fun solution and maybe even set precedents for the future.
I think it’s a great idea! This season is already bound to be different and unfair to a lot of players, especially pitchers. If they’re willing to give up their impact on extra-inning games, I think a home run derby will provide a fun and exciting alternative to decide the end of such games. If not, maybe MLB and the MLBPA can build off this idea.