Will pitching specialists become extinct with new rule?

MESA, Ariz. — There is a fear among left-handed relievers, particularly specialists, that baseball’s new rules requiring pitchers to face at least three batters could result in lost jobs.

“It was a little shocking, to be honest,’’ Chicago Cubs veteran left-handed reliever Brian Duensing said. “I think it will take jobs away from some pitchers. There are a lot of lefties out there that their career is coming in and getting lefties out. Some guys make a living by getting a hitter out, so now it might be different for them. …

“It’s going to cause some guys to pitch differently, or find new ways to go about their job to keep their job.

“The game is changing. It’s the way of the world, I guess.’’

The new rule will be enforced in the 2020 season as part of baseball’s pursuit to speed up the game, but it is flawed. If a reliever comes into the game with the bases loaded, but doesn’t have his control and walks the first two batters he faced, a manager can’t pull him.

“That can slow it up too,’’ Duensing said. “Sometimes to speed up the game, you do need to make a change. There will be some issues either way that I’m sure will have to be dealt with or talked about. Baseball is one of those games there is no timetable on it for a reason.

“They wanted to speed up the game, I guess. They’re trying to keep the game fresh, and keep fans attentive, and things like that. But they’re making changes, and there’s nothing you can do about it, I guess.

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“It’s something I’m going to have to deal with.’’

The good news, Duensing and other veteran pitchers say, is that MLB has abandoned the idea of a pitch clock.

“There doesn’t need to be a clock,’’ Duensing said. “There’s so much stuff going on in the game that a lot of people don’t realize, the chess match, just the mental state of the pitcher, the scouting reports. You try to stay on the same page, and sometimes things take a little bit longer. In the grand scheme of things, you’re trying to win the game, and if taking extra time to be on the same page with the catcher, or in the right state of mind to throw a certain pitch is necessary, that’s what you’re’ going to do.

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“No pitch clock is good.’’

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