As part of the health and safety protocols this spring, teams have the option to play games shorter than the typical nine innings in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.
For the Cubs, manager David Ross says his crew plans to stick mostly to seven innings for their games, which is apparently the default unless both sides agree to nine or five innings (Wittenmyer). That means unless there’s some real need on one or both sides to bump up to nine innings – and, say, the other team asks the Cubs really nicely – we’re probably going to see almost exclusively seven-inning Cubs games. For national TV games, it’ll be nine innings, and maybe at the end of Spring Training the Cubs will want a few nine-inning affairs to get things stretched a bit. Mostly, though, it’ll be seven.
That’s perfectly fine for the guys who are absolute locks to make the roster, and even most of the guys who are realistic contenders. They’ll get their at bats and their innings without too much issue. Where it kinda stinks is for the prospects and minor leaguers who might otherwise have soaked up those later innings. We, as fans, might now get a little less Brennen Davis and Chase Strumpf and Miguel Amaya and Brailyn Marquez and Cory Abbott and the like in game action. Just another subtle pandemic casualty. We’ll still see some, though.