TORONTO (AP) — Seven-inning doubleheaders could be a way for big league teams to squeeze more games into a condensed season without exhausting pitching staffs, Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins suggests.
Opening day has been postponed until at least mid-May because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Blue Jays were set to begin the 2020 season at home against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday afternoon.
Atkins pitched in Cleveland’s minor league system for five seasons before becoming that team’s assistant director of player development. He was hired as Toronto’s GM in December 2015.
College and minor league teams typically play seven innings in each game of a doubleheader.
Twinbills are rarely scheduled in the majors. But Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black said last week that frequent doubleheaders might be necessary to help fit more games into a shorter window.
Asked what he saw as potential solutions to scheduling issues, Atkins mentioned shorter games in doubleheaders.
“Maybe that’s something we have to consider,” he said on a conference call Wednesday.
By averaging nine games a week, a team could play 162 games in 18 weeks, eight fewer than usual. That means Major League Baseball could start as late as July and play a full schedule by extending the regular season through October.
Still, even Atkins isn’t entirely sold on the idea.
“You’re not playing the game that is written in the rulebooks,” he said. “It’s not the regulation game, it’s a different game. Bullpens and teams are built in a way to play nine innings. I’m sure there are people that would challenge that and I’m not so sure it’s something we should do.”
No matter how many innings get played, the likelihood of a condensed schedule will require greater roster…