PHILADELPHIA – The new rules instituted for – and during – this 60-game MLB season are many and varied and have engendered a cross-section of opinions from those in the game.
Placing a runner on second in extra innings? Hitters don’t seem to mind; pitchers are another matter.
The universal DH? It seems most are for it but it’s far from unanimous.
There appears to be some unanimity regarding that one, at least as far as the Yankees are concerned.
“I’m kind of all for it,” said outfielder Mike Tauchman, whose RBI double in the seventh inning gave the Yankees the lead for good in a 3-1 victory in Game 2 of Wednesday’s doubleheader that gave them a split against the Phillies. “I wouldn’t be opposed to seven-inning doubleheaders every single Sunday and [having] every single Monday off going forward. I’m just saying.”
Luke Voit, who had two hits in the second game, including his fourth homer of the season, didn’t hesitate, either.
“I don’t know if it’ll happen,” Voit said of seven-inning doubleheaders beyond this season. “It’s different, but I like it a lot. I think it’s good for the players and injury prevention, too. Not as much wear and tear as the nine-nine [inning doubleheaders]. Obviously, we had it in the minors, but it goes quick. I think it’s something that pitchers like.”
Position players, too. As Voit mentioned, the wear and tear on players alone hasmade doubleheaders somewhat of a scourge to big-league managers for years.
“They’re tough on your bullpen, tough on your guys,” former Yankees manager Joe Girardi would often say of doubleheaders.
And so it’s not surprising Girardi, in his first season as Phillies manager and also a member of MLB’s competition committee since 2017, endorses the concept of seven-inning doubleheader games.
“I like them because you can get in some of these [traditional] doubleheaders and they’re two four-hour games and then if they’re split doubleheaders, it’s a day at the ballpark from 10 o’clock [in the morning] until midnight,” Girardi said via Zoom after Wednesday’s split. “And that’s not easy on players. I think it’s hard on their health as well…I think it’s [seven-inning games] a great idea.”
Girardi added that he would be OK if after the season MLB decided to make seven-inning doubleheader games permanent.
The Yankees dropped the first game, 11-7, as J.A. Happ had little command, walking six in three innings. The Yankees trailed 11-3 at one point but rallied late to make it close. They were feet away from pulling to 11-10 when Mike Ford narrowly missed a three-run homer in the seventh, the ball hooking foul at the last moment. Ford was called out on strikes on a borderline full-count pitch by plate umpire Angel Hernandez, who soon ejected third-base coach Phil Nevin for arguing.
“Maybe there’s a little bit more pressure to execute,” Tauchman said of the impact shorter games might have on a player. “Two less times at the plate, you’ve got to get your runs when you can. But our mentality is score every inning, so it really doesn’t change too much for us.”
Having seven-inning doubleheader games was not a part of the original 2020 operations manual, but discussions quickly heated up on the topic between MLB and the players' association when the Marlins had their outbreak of COVID-19 cases and several teams, including the Yankees, had their schedules impacted as a result. The Yankees have a second doubleheader this week – Saturday in St. Petersburg, Florida, against the Rays.
Zack Britton, the Yankees’ player rep to the union who closed out Wednesday’s second game, indicated getting the MLBPA to go along with the shortened doubleheader games was easy. “I think overall,” Britton said, “it just makes sense with what we’re doing this season.”