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.
College and minor league teams typically play seven innings in each game of a doubleheader.
Twin bills 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, and New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone brought up seven-inning doubleheaders as well during a conference call Wednesday.
By averaging nine games per week, a team could play 162 games in 18 weeks, eight fewer weeks than in a usual season. 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.”