The two-way player designation will go into effect next season, however, it won’t really affect Cincinnati Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen.
Michael Lorenzen has certainly had an impressive 2019 season for the Cincinnati Reds. A lot of fans have dubbed Mikey Biceps as a two-way player. While Lorenzen can definitely play all over the field, next season will dictate how ball clubs can utilize these types of players. However, the rules will not really affect how Lorenzen too much.
Next season, Major League Baseball will impose a new “two-way player” rule that will govern such players as Lorenzen and Shohei Ohtani. While those two may be the best examples in the game of two-way players, the main reason for the rule is to curb the use of position players pitching late in games.
Next season, only players designated as pitchers may pitch in a game. I know that sounds silly, but there’s merit to why MLB is doing this. This season, the Cincinnati Reds have sent position players such as José Peraza and Kyle Farmer to the mound late in games when the lead seems insurmountable.
Under the new rules, the only way such substitutions will be seen is if the game goes to extra innings, a team is winning or losing by six or more runs or a player has earned the two-way designation.
So, how can a player earn the two-way designation? The player much pitch at least 20 innings and play at least 20 games as a position player or designated hitter. In those 20 games, the player must have at least three at-bats per game.
So, how would that effect the way the Reds utilize Michael Lorenzen? Honestly, it wouldn’t effect it at all, provided the team wants to designate Lorenzen as a pitcher and not as a position player. Basically, if David Bell wants Lorenzen to be a pitcher who occasionally hits and plays the outfield, it’s not a problem at all.
Now, if Lorenzen is designated as an outfielder, that’s where the rule comes into effect. Next season, it’s assumed that MLB will cap the number of pitchers a team can carry at 13, which is the same of pitchers we’ve Bell keep on the active roster almost all season.
Currently, Lorenzen does not qualify for a two-way player in 2020, meaning if he were designated as an outfielder, he couldn’t pitch. That’s very unlikely to happen, but next season we could see Lorenzen designated as a pitcher and Bell actually use Lorenzen more as a position player in order to fulfill the requirements of a two-way player.
Once Michael Lorenzen eclipses the 20 innings pitched and 20 games played in the outfield, he’d immediately qualify as a two-way player for the remainder of 2020 and would also be eligible for the two-way player designation in 2021.
More than anything, this would allow the Cincinnati Reds more roster flexibility and enable the team to carry an additional pitcher. In today’s game, with so much emphasis on pitcher-batter matchups, having the flexibility to run out another pitcher who gives you a better chance to win, could be the difference between a win and a loss.
So, while we won’t see Michael Lorenzen designated as a two-way player in 2020 just yet, his impact of late could sway David Bell to give the the 27-year-old more chances to play the outfield next season. For his career, Lorenzen has an OPS of .821, 7 home runs and 23 RBIs. Who wouldn’t want to see more of that?