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MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Argument against DH doesn't hold up

Argument against DH doesn't hold up

Argument against DH doesn't hold up

WASHINGTON -- The designated hitter remains a point of contention in Interleague Play.

In general, the American League likes it.

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The National League folks, not so much.

Maybe everybody should take a deep breath.

Like it or hate it, the claim that the DH makes a manager's job easier is unfounded.

Actually, it could be said that the DH forces a skipper to manage more.

Does the pitcher hitting really create more strategy?

It doesn't seem like it. All it does is create an easy excuse for NL managers to bunt -- even with one out -- when a pitcher comes to the plate with a runner on first.

The only overwhelming contrast in terms of sacrifice bunts between the NL and the AL is the No. 9 spot in the order. This season, the No. 9 hitter in the NL has been asked to put down 275 sacrifice bunts compared to 66 sacrifice bunts out of the No. 9 hole in the AL.

What about the other eight spots in the lineup? The difference is miniscule. NL teams have only 14 more sacrifice bunts from their one through eight hitters than AL teams (157-143).

Fans supposedly like offense, and the DH does provide that if you consider that the No. 9 hitter in the AL had a .235 average through Friday -- 61 points higher than the No. 9 batter in the NL.

Does it create too much of a workload for starting pitchers? Well, through Friday, NL starting pitchers averaged 5.9 innings per game, which was the same as AL starters.

What the DH does do is that it creates opportunities for managers. With the Rockies playing in Toronto earlier in the week, manager Walt Weiss slipped Carlos Gonzalez into the No. 2 spot in the lineup Wednesday, which touched off a series of inquiries as to why he moved his No. 3 hitter up one.

Simple. Weiss did, but he didn't. With Dexter Fowler out of the lineup, nursing a bruised middle finger on his right hand, Josh Rutledge was the likely leadoff hitter. With the DH, however, Weiss put Rutledge in the No. 9 slot, so he could get Gonzalez a possible extra plate appearance, but after the first time through the lineup, he had the normal alignment of Rutledge, DJ LeMahieu and Gonzalez back-to-back-to-back.

Forever young

Oakland right-hander Bartolo Colon is the first pitcher to win his first six starts after turning 40, according to Elias. That prompted a check, with the assistance of Baseball-Reference, to see how 40-somethings have done over the long term.

There have been five pitchers who've won at least 20 games in the season in which they turned 40, and all five won 21 games: Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1927, Jamie Moyer in 2003, Phil Niekro in 1979, Warren Spahn in 1961 and Cy Young in 1907. Niekro won the most games (121) after turning 40 with Moyer second (105).

Young had the lowest ERA for a pitcher in the year he turned 40, compiling a 1.99 mark in 1907, and his composite ERA of 2.14 for games pitched after 40 is the lowest. Young pitched 1,226 2/3 innings after turning 40, which is ranked sixth behind Niekro (1,977), Moyer (1,551 1/3), Jack Quinn (1,427 2/3), Charlie Hough (1,346 1/3) and Nolan Ryan (1,271 2/3). Ryan also pitched two no-hitters after turning 40.

If Colon keeps his ERA below 3.00 for the entire season, he would become the 13th pitcher in the Majors aged 40 or over to qualify for an ERA title with a sub-3.00 mark. The last pitchers to accomplish that were Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson in 2004.

Starting strong

Gerrit Cole of the Pirates became the second pitcher taken No. 1 overall in the First-Year Player Draft to win his first three big league starts. Ben McDonald, who went No. 1 overall to Baltimore in 1989, also won his first five big league starts.

The difference? Cole is 3-0 after his first three starts, which came in his first three appearances. McDonald debuted in the big leagues late in the 1989 season with six relief appearances, then six more times to open the '90 season before he was inserted into the Orioles' rotation and won five in a row.

Of the 15 starting pitchers taken No. 1 overall in the Draft -- not including this year's No. 1 pick Mark Appel -- only one other was unbeaten in his first three starts: Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick of the Nationals in 2009, who was 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his first three starts. He allowed one run in seven innings of a no-decision in a 2-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox in his third start in 2010.

Double duty

Padres manager Bud Black earned his 500th victory against San Franicsco last Monday, joining Walter "Big Train" Johnson and Clark "Old Fox" Griffith as the only former pitchers who won at least 100 games in the Majors and went on to manage at least 500 victories.

Black went 121-116 in his big league career, which was spent with Seattle, Kansas City, Cleveland, Toronto and San Francisco.

Johnson was 417-279 during his Hall of Fame pitching career with the original Washington Senators, and went 529-432 as the manager of the Senators and Indians.

Griffith was 237-146 during his career in which he pitched for the St. Louis Browns, Senators, Boston Reds, Cincinnati Reds, Yankees, Cubs and White Sox. As manager of the White Sox, New York Highlanders, Cincinnati Reds and Senators, Griffith had a 1,491-1,367 record.

Out of left field

SABR historian Rod Nelson reports that Caleb Gindl, who debuted with the Brewers on June 15, is only the third Major Leaguer officially listed at 5-foot-7 and 200-plus pounds. Gindl joins Angel Salome, who played for the Brewers in 2008, and Bill Byers, who played for the Cardinals in 1904.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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