September call-ups. Remember that? It’s been a minute since that was a normal thing to be thinking about, what with the pandemic season last year being a completely different animal. But today is the day: rosters expand today from 26 to 28.
If you’ve been around a while, that probably sounds a little weird. Just a couple years ago, September roster expansion meant that *ANYONE* on the 40-man roster could come up to the big league team. So the rosters expanded from (then) 25 to … whatever you wanted!
But that got shrunk to just 28, and while it might change again in the upcoming CBA, it’s the rule for this year. Kinda neuters some of the fun of September call-ups.
For the sport as a whole, I understand why the rule was changed. The games in September too frequently became like Spring Training affairs, with an endless parade of relievers and fill-ins among teams out of the race. Even the games that really mattered were impacted, because with SO MANY relievers available, managers could really go nuts with the in-game maneuvering, and it frequently did not feel like the normal regular season anymore.
But when you’re a fan of a specific team, you like the change much less. If your team is in the race and has a deep 40-man full of guys who can contribute, you would love to be able to bring up as many as you can. If your team is out of the race – like the Cubs this year – you like to be able to see prospects and fringe guys come up aplenty for evaluation (and sometimes entertainment) purposes.
For the Cubs this year, that would mean Rule 5 eligible relievers like Brendon Little, Ethan Roberts, and Erich Uelmen could easily come up now for a look-see, and you wouldn’t have to worry about the guys who are soon coming off the Injured List bumping them right back out.
As it stands, with just two extra roster spots available, those are likely going to get eaten up in short order by Willson Contreras and Adbert Alzolay, if not Dillon Maples or Jonathan Holder. Thankfully the Cubs have already gotten up some of the guys you’d want to see in this period of time anyway (Alfonso Rivas, Scott Effross, Michael Hermosillo, Manny Rodriguez, etc.).
We’ll see how September plays out, and whether the Cubs utilize the Injured List as a mechanism to rest some of the established players – everyone has at least some ticky-tack injuries at this point in the year, especially given the increase in workload from last year – while getting some of these other guys a look.