Something is different in Major League Baseball in September as cavalry can be called up. No we are not talking about horses. We are talking about how a team can expand their roster from 25 players to 40 players.
Over the years the 40 man roster has been part of September baseball and it should continue to be so. In September you have teams battling for their respective division title and teams trying to grab one of the two wild cards in each league. Also, you have teams who are out of it and trying to be spoilers.
The current rule is once the calendar hits September 1 teams can call up players that are on its 40-man roster. In an article by A.J. Cassavell on Sportsonearth.com, he talks about how some teams will stagger the call-ups with some only calling up a few then perhaps calling up
five more once the playoffs in the minor leagues are officially over. Some teams might have around 30 players and some teams might have around the maximum of 40 players.
In my mind, there are two major reasons why teams will add players. One of the reasons is that it gives a team a deeper bench or bullpen during the stretch run of the pennant race. The second reason why it is done is to get a look at some of your top prospects and just your overall farm talent. Both of these reasons are ones that I agree with.
A deeper bench gives a manager many options. They have the opportunity to play matchups more often than during the course of the season. One example of this might be a pinch hitter being used early for a pitcher in a National League ballpark, depending on the situation. Also, later on in a game a manager can send up a pinch hitter and the opposing manager could make a pitching change.
A manager might not think twice about countering with another pinch hitter to get the favorable matchup. Finally, a manager might want to use one of their September call ups as a pinch runner. On the Mets this year Eric Young Jr. will serve this role and has almost strictly been used as a pinch runner since being called up.
In terms of managing a bullpen in September, you have more options to once again really play that matchup. You might have a few extra left handed pitchers in your bullpen to get that one big out.
Also, it allows a manager to be Captain Hook if need be in a big game and pull a pitcher. This was something seen first-hand by myself while watching the most recent Mets/ Nationals series on MLB TV on Labor Day. Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams used four pitchers in the seventh inning on September 7, a game that The Nationals lost.
The other reason why keeping the 40 man roster in September is very important is because teams get to see their prospects. While many teams are out of the pennant race, they sometimes look to next year. With the expanded rosters, teams can call up one of their young studs to see if they are MLB ready to be part of the solution. In addition, if a team has a veteran in the clubhouse who might be on his way out. A team has that extra spot to keep him if the player is a good influence to the younger players in the organization.
In addition, a younger player will get to experience the life of being a major league player. Some people might have the argument that spring training is the time to look at the younger players in your organization. By having the rosters expand it gives teams a head start of who they might want to have back in their organization next season.
It is a very important edge to have and all teams can take full advantage of it.
In the article written by Cassavell he argues the games are getting longer because of expanded rosters.
The games are already long. According to an article on Fansided.com by Russell Johnson the games on average are taking two hours and 52 minutes, down around nine minutes from last year due to the new pace of play rules. As a baseball fan the expansion makes it much more exciting and the 40 man roster should continue to be part of September.
Brian can be contacted at email@example.com