Will a pitcher ever hit for himself again in Major League Baseball?
Pitchers can hit, too. But not all of them are as adept in the batter's box as Madison Bumgarner, Jacob deGrom or Victor Zambrano, sure. It also won't matter at all anymore.
The shortened 2020 MLB season is paving the way for the universal designated hitter, equalizing the American and National Leagues for the first time since 1973.
According to the proposed agreement for this year and next, the universal DH will be instituted beginning this season. The deal also calls for the DH next year.
Couple that with the belief the DH was going to become universal in the next collective bargaining agreement (2021), and could it mean we've seen a pitcher bat for himself for the final time in Major League Baseball history?
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That's not to say a pitcher will never bat again. Some may be utilized as a pinch-hitter. But a NL manager will never be forced to write in his starting pitcher's name into the lineup card. Relievers no longer carry the burden (as long as they face three batters!) of leaving the game when their spot in the order is due up.
The final two games of the 2019 season, Games 6 and 7 of the World Series, were played at Minute Maid Park, home of the American League champion Houston Astros. Therefore, you'd have to go back to Game 5 of that series to find the final at-bat a pitcher took for himself.
That would be New York Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole, then with the Astros, who hit for himself in the top of the seventh. Nats reliever Sean Doolittle struck him out swinging to end a five-pitch at-bat.
As unceremonious it may have seemed in the moment, Cole's whiff could become historic.
The two-way player may be making a comeback, with the Tampa Bay Rays willing to let prospect Brendan McKay pitch and bat as a DH. Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels has proved he can both hit and pitch in MLB. Other than that, though, it's sad for the starting pitchers who relished their two or three at-bats every five days, or the reliever who finally got to hit for himself once in a blue moon.
So long are the days of Bartolo Colon running into one and setting the baseball world ablaze. No more can Zack Greinke rube his position player teammates for slumping (OK, he still might).
St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright is already asking manager Mike Schildt for one more at-bat.
And former big leaguer Dan Haren realized he holds a very specific record.
Goodbye double switches and easy outs. Hello DH.
MLB pitchers hitting: Quick facts
Most home runs by pitcher (career): Wes Ferrell (38)
Most home runs by pitcher (season): Ferrell (9, 1931)
Most home runs by pitcher (active): Bumgarner (18)