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This is why we can’t have nice things: Orioles flaunt doubleheader rule

Jun 21, 2014, 12:08 PM EDT

Kevin Gausman Kevin Gausman

A couple of years ago, MLB did a nice thing, accommodating teams with doubleheaders by allowing them to play with a 26th man for the day. Of course, one of the reasons it took so long for the rule to come about is that the league knew that no matter how it tried to structure the rule, MLB teams would seek to exploit it.

Take, for example, the 2014 Baltimore Orioles and Kevin Gausman. On Wednesday night, Gausman pitched six scoreless innings as part of a 2-0 shutout of the Rays. On Friday night, he was demoted back to Triple-A, not because he’s out of the rotation, but because the Orioles saw a chance to game the system. Since the 26th man in doubleheaders is not beholden to the 10-day rule (players optioned to the minors must stay there for 10 days unless being recalled to replace an injured player), Gausman can be recalled to start next Friday in the Orioles’ doubleheader against the Rays.

The original plan was for Gausman to start next Wednesday instead, but since the Orioles have six starters, shuffling things around for him to go Friday was no problem. Making the move gives them an extra middle reliever (Brad Brach) to use in the series against the Yankees and White Sox, and depending on what they want to do with Gausman after his start next Friday, essentially allows them to play with an extra roster spot for a week and a half, putting their opponents at a disadvantage.

That certainly wasn’t MLB’s intention in crafting the rule. But, then, MLB typically does a lousy job of crafting rules, as we’ve seen with some of the replay/plate blocking stuff this year and we’ll see again on July 1, when the Yankees dominate international signing day. The Orioles are hardly the first to try to use the 26th man rule for a several-day advantage and they won’t be the last. Plus, as far as these things go, it’s far less distasteful that placing a starting pitcher on the bereavement list a day after his start and activating him the day before his next start. It’s on MLB to tighten up the 26th man rule, if it cares to do so.

  1. xbam1 - Jun 21, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    to me its not big deal unless your really looking for something to complain about which most people are…

    • thatsnuckinfuts - Jun 21, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      When you start a sentence the first word is capitalized, man I can’t stand when people do that. (SWIDT?)

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 21, 2014 at 12:50 PM

        When you start a sentence[SIC] the first word is capitalized,[SIC] man[SIC] [SIC]I can’t stand when people do that. (SWIDT?)

        Et tu, Brute?

      • paul621 - Jun 21, 2014 at 1:26 PM

        Judging from the thumbs down, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say no, not many people saw what you did there.

      • thatsnuckinfuts - Jun 21, 2014 at 1:39 PM

        LOL no

      • fearlessleader - Jun 21, 2014 at 1:41 PM

        Also, as long as we’re doing this, they didn’t FLAUNT the rule, they FLOUTED it.

  2. gloccamorra - Jun 21, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    With the five man rotation and specialty relievers (LOOGY, set up man, closer) the pitching staff has expanded at the expense of bench players. Maybe it would be smarter to expand the active roster permanently to 26 or 27 to accommodate the new 11 or 12 man pitching staffs.

    • raysfan1 - Jun 21, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      I’m sure the MLBPA would like that. However, MLB teams would soon have 13-14 man pitching staffs unless MLB also instituted a rule regarding how many pitchers a team could have…and then teams would look to find ways around that too.

      • tmc602014 - Jun 21, 2014 at 5:51 PM

        That’s right! Jeff Francoeur, anybody?

    • twinfan24 - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      Yes, teams should have slightly larger rosters. The game has changed. While some may not miss it, I miss actual platoons as positions. With only 3 or 4 bench spots on most teams, you can’t afford to have a platoon at second base, or some other position. The game has shifted to the advantage of the pitcher, but if teams could have an actual platoon at one or two spots, they might find more offense from those positions.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 21, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      Owners would say we’re not paying for 26 or 27 MLB players per team without a way to offset our costs…

  3. proudlycanadian - Jun 21, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    This rule discriminates against teams such as the Jays who rarely play double headers. On the other hand, it does allow teams to manage their bullpens better and possibly has a positive impact on the health of pitchers.

    • twinfan24 - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:35 PM

      Every team rarely plays double headers. If I’m not mistaken, there haven’t been any scheduled double headers in many years, and they only come up in the case of makeup games. Are there more than a dozen doubleheaders in a season? If so, it can’t be a lot more than that. I don’t see this as a big issue because a lot of teams wouldn’t necessarily have a guy in the rotation, with the ability to be sent to the minors, and lining up for days to start.

      • dirtybirdcurve - Jun 21, 2014 at 3:23 PM

        He meant because they play in a dome they are half as likely to play double hitters than teams not im a dome, but go ahead and be a dick

  4. hcf95688 - Jun 21, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    After a lifetime spent not caring at all about the Orioles, I am starting to dislike them quite a bit. When is Machado’s hearing? Seems like he was suspended nearly a month ago.

    • sophiethegreatdane - Jun 21, 2014 at 3:22 PM

      Yes, by all means let’s choose to focus on the Orioles for doing something that every team has done, or has the ability to do, and isn’t in violation of the rules as written.

      Apparently the Orioles are the only team in MLB that is trying to maximize their ability to compete in a professional sport.

      • Panda Claus - Jun 21, 2014 at 10:04 PM

        Lost amongst all the grumbling is the fact the Orioles have a stout group of bloggers that basically report every detail about the O’s and who’s coming and going. Were HBT not so fortunate to have 80% of their material come from other sources that are closer to the teams, we never would have been given this particular tidbit to dissect.

        And Mr. Pouliot, how exactly do you happen to know what MLB was really thinking when they came up with this rule? You state your opinion as if it’s fact, when really I’m sure it’s probably not.

  5. superpriebe - Jun 21, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    Maybe I’ve got it wrong, but I am having trouble understanding why this is such a big deal. Gausman starts Wednesday, then the following Friday. By “exploiting” this loophole, the Orioles get to use him on the 9th day after his last start instead of the 10th day. Is this what I am supposed to get worked up about?

    • Francisco (FC) - Jun 21, 2014 at 3:34 PM

      It’s less about Gausmann and more about the extra RP they’ll have for a week. You’re focusing on the starter, instead focus on the relieverr. wouldn’t it be nice if you could have available bullpen spots at the expense of rotation spots without actually sacrificing the rotation? Usually those guys just sit in the dugout all game and contribute nothing. Matthew has a point, albeit not one I feel too strongly about but a point nonetheless.

      • randomdigits - Jun 21, 2014 at 5:34 PM

        Does it help that the reliever in question isn’t very good?

      • Francisco (FC) - Jun 21, 2014 at 9:06 PM

        Sometimes all you need is a warm body that eats a few innings.

      • superpriebe - Jun 22, 2014 at 5:11 PM

        I can’t agree with you there, Francisco. If they weren’t “exploiting”, they would keep Gausman down for 10 days and he would start next Saturday instead of next Friday. And they ARE experiencing a “sacrifice” to their rotation here in the sense that Gausman was supposed to start next Wednesday and they are having to wait until Friday instead to use him again. They will have to fill a start in there with someone who isn’t as good as Gausman. Put in another way, with the double-header, they have 10 games in those 9 days, and Gausman would normally start in there someplace, meaning they ARE sacrificing one of his starts.

        So, in the final analysis, they are trading off delaying Gausman’s next start by two days for a back-of-the-bullpen RP for 9 days (it is 28-year-old Brad Brach and his 5.40 ERA and 16K/11BB in 18.1 IP), and the “exploit” is that they get Gausman back a day earlier. Ho hum, this is much ado about nothing.

  6. zackd2 - Jun 21, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    How does the Yankees international signings play into this? If they overspend they will pay penalties, they’re not manipulating the system so they don’t have to pay.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      [damn report comment button, sorry]

      The Yanks are allotted $2.2M [roughly] to spend in the international draft this year. Rumor is, they are planning on spending at least $30M. They’ll take their penalties (tax on spending and inability to spend more than like $250K on a prospect the following year). But it’s not really a deterrent if you can spend a ton of money.

  7. wheels579 - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    Who cares? Seriously, Matthew? The Orioles could still use the disabled or bereavement list to bring Gausman back before the ten days expire. Can’t rip Ned Yost while the Royals are winning so you have to write this drivel?

  8. doctornature - Jun 21, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    Teams with position players that were pitchers in college also should use them more often in mop-up roles. Moreland with the Rangers hit 94 on the gun, and others have fared ok also. This saves your pen, if the position player can pitch 2-3 innings without hurting himself, why not?

  9. wheels579 - Jun 21, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    Matthew’s point loses significant credibility with his implication that the Orioles basically stole an extra player for a week when all they did is act within the rules without any lack of sportsmanship. The headline, “This is why we can’t have nice things” is sarcastic garbage – and he is titled as editor so the responsibility can’t be pawned off on someone else. Three days is all they gained from this, which is hardly an advantage when you consider they could bring Gausman back quicker by making up an injury – an actual travesty, not a perceived one like this is – and it’s hard to think MLB would be up in arms over this to begin with because nobody is gaining an unfair advantage since their roster is the same size as their opponents during this period before the DH unlike what goes on with roster expansion after September 1 which MLB seemingly has no problem with!

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