MLB commissioner Rob Manfred before game one of the 2021 World Series MLB commissioner Rob Manfred before game one of the 2021 World Series between the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred voiced the thoughts of many baseball fans Tuesday.

Speaking with reporters before the World Baseball Classic championship game between Team USA and Japan, Manfred announced the WBC will return in 2026. He pointed out, however, that he’d like to see more star pitchers in the competition next time.

“It’s great the guys that we have,” Manfred said (via ESPN). “But I’d like to see pitching staffs that are of the same quality as our position players.”

While Team USA’s position players feature superstars such as Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Nolan Arenado, the pitching staff features competent though lesser-known players.

Most high-profile pitchers skip the WBC because of injury risk. A pitcher is far more likely to suffer an injury than a position player in WBC action (although the Houston Astros and José Altuve would beg to differ on that point, given his recent injury from an errant pitch).

And pitchers accumulate mileage on their arms in these high-pressure situations that are nothing like spring training games.

Manfred says he wants to convince teams — and star pitchers — that pitching in the WBC can benefit them.

“It’s not lobbying,” Manfred said. “It’s having facts to support it — that pitching in high-leverage situations like these are, that actually helps players develop.”


About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.