When baseball should be at its best, teams feeling the pressure play on pitching

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ATLANTA – The veteran manager of the National League’s top team in 2021 entered Game 3 of the World Series publicly admitting he couldn’t think of Game 4.

The veteran manager of the American League’s top team in 2021 walked into Game 3 saying there was a good chance Zack Greinke could start Game 4 at Truist Park, but the Astros needed to move on first. ‘until Friday evening.

Welcome to the modern fall classic.

Where a good starting pitcher is harder than ever to find.

Where the pens of reliable relievers and little-known relievers filling in the middle innings are at a premium.

And where the pressure from Major League Baseball to extend the playoffs seems increasingly silly as a grueling 2021 campaign draws to a close.

“With the day when pitchers don’t go deep into the game, I sincerely wish we would consider expanding the rosters even more,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said before rookie Luis Garcia did. faces rookie Ian Anderson in Game 3 on Friday. “Especially with the fact that we’re all scared of extra-inning games, what it might do to your team and, as you’ve seen, what it probably did in Tampa Bay in that extra-inning game. the low. Especially since we are no longer on second base to start extra-round games.

I wrote during the recent American League Championship series about the lack of real, renowned MLB starters.

A big series later, the Astros – missing injured No.1 starter Lance McCullers Jr. – entered Truist Park in a slightly better location than the Atlanta Braves. But before the first pitch of Game 3 was thrown, the three-game stay in the suburbs threatened to become a battle of attrition between the two clubs.

Braves manager Brian Snitker has been honest about the prolonged uncertainty his side faced after starter Charlie Morton was lost to injury in Game 1. It’s Max Fried and Anderson on the mound for the best team in the NL, and everything after that was rightfully to be determined.

“I have nothing about Game 4,” Snitker said. “(Friday) we’re going to start this game and continue it. If we can win it, we’re going to do everything we can to win it and care about tomorrow, tomorrow.

The Atlanta manager looked like the Astros manager.

“We’re going to try to win the game (Friday),” Baker said. “So we’ll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.” But I hope you don’t go through everyone in the meantime.

Maybe the World Series was like that at some point in the day.

Perhaps the after-effects of a compressed 60-game season in 2020, which was shortened by the coronavirus pandemic and a work stalemate, are still being felt in 2021.

But from a distance, the overview is strange.

When the Astros win, the latest win is all that matters as they get closer and closer to their second world championship.

But that can’t be the way MLB wants the game to be played and promoted as baseball struggles to compete with the almighty NFL and is overshadowed by the power of college football.

Heck, even the NBA looks super strong compared to the survival version of baseball’s strongest in late October.

Thirty teams start playing against each other during spring training, play 162 games, make it through the first rounds of the playoffs …

“It’s really tough because my role and that of a few of the other guys is we’re trying to connect with our seven, eight, nine (innings) guys,” Astros reliever Phil Maton said. “So it’s really trying to be proud to win this second third of the game, taking it from a starter to our backs.

“Just watching the clashes and trying to put the game back together from there is definitely the challenge for managers. So far Dusty has done a great job putting us in situations to be successful. Right now we’re just trying to keep that up and win a few more games. “

Expanding the scope of the playoffs (to create more income for the MLB) will only dilute the product on the pitch even further.

I’m With Baker: Expand the playoff rosters, so the best baseball teams have more reliable options on the playoff field.

I also continued to nod in agreement as the veteran Astros frontman compared October’s recent management change to the minute-by-minute pace of contemporary life.

When every playoff game is treated as a must-have – firsts, starters shot after two innings, a daily army of relievers – it’s no wonder the best baseball teams are exhausted by the time October is on its way. to turn into November. .

“It’s gotten more and more with this recently,” Baker said. “The guys have a shorter leash for everyone. They hit more. I mean, we have more of them in today’s society… where you worry less about tomorrow. I believe in life today, but I also believe in preparing for tomorrow. Because otherwise you are spending all your paycheck today and not worrying about paying your bills the next day.

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