If a team will be competitive in their division, and have an opportunity to play for the division title, they need to play games within their division.
That’s the observation of Diamondbacks’ manager Chip Hale, who revealed he would prefer to keep the existing schedule format.
A continuing discussion centers on the attractiveness of a balanced schedule against the desire to play head-to-head competition among teams within your own division.
The latter structure calls for teams within their division to play others teams within their division 19 times during the course of a major league season. That leaves six games, three home and three away, for the remaining teams within the league. Plus, allow for inter-league play and the drama of head-to-head competition is accentuated.
“To win your division, you need to play against teams in your division,” manager Chip Hale said before Friday’s game with San Diego. “I’ve been involved in both situations and, to win, you have to go against teams in your division.”
In that regard, schedule makers usually leave the best for last.
In September, teams will play clubs within their division at least six times, three home and three away. Based on the previous season’s results, teams which tend to be competitive for a division title are usually scheduled for the final weekend of the season.
In contrast to the inter-division format, those who support a balance schedule believe now is the hour for discussion.
“It’s time for renew the merits of going back to a balanced schedule,” said San Diego manager Bud Black before Friday’s game. “The balanced schedule is important because of the wild-card. Teams in that situation may have greater frequency to play teams involved in a wide card race, and, to me, that’s the benefit of a balanced schedule.”
If there is a discussion on the table regarding the merit of a balanced schedule against inter-division play, other elements of the game should be considered.
That’s the assessment of Hale, who took the discussion to another level.
“I’ve been outspoken on the designated hitter,” he said. “I think the National League should have the DH for one season, and see how that works out. At this point, pitchers do not hit in high school, college or the minors, so why make them hit in the major leagues.”
A GROWING DILEMMA
Third baseman Jake Lamb is still some time away from rejoining the team.
Manager Chip Hale gave that assessment prior to Friday’s game and indicated, “it’s been longer than we thought.”
Lamb, who was hitting .414 when he went on the disabled list April 21 with a left foot stress reaction, just came out a walking boot, and began baseball activities.
When Lamb is ready to come off the DL, Hale will face a quandary.
Now that Yasmany Tomas has transitioned to life in North America and to baseball, he appears in the process of being a productive player. Now, Hale will have to decide between the two for third base.
Coming into Friday’s game with San Diego, Tomas was hitting .340, and that’s good for second in the National League among rookies. Prior to Friday’s game, Tomas was hitting .400 (12-for 30), two doubles, seven RBIs in his last seven games.
“It will be a hard decision for us,” Hale said. “Time will tell and how this plays out.”