Chicago Cubs: How the team misses out with new September limits

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Beginning next year, September call-ups will receive a massive cut, dropping the allowed number of players on the major league club to 28. Leaving teams like the Chicago Cubs with fewer options than ever down the stretch.

September call-ups are always an exciting time of the baseball season. For the Chicago Cubs, there have been several repeat customers called up to help the team down the stretch the past few years, like Dillon Maples, Taylor Davis, and James Norwood.

Call-ups have always allowed minor leaguers to get their foot in the door with an impact performance in a playoff race, or allow them to experience the majors for the first time. Terrance Gore, for example, joined the team in September last year and gave the Cubs a game-changing speed boost, racking up six stolen bases in fourteen games played.

Hall of Famer Greg Maddux also made his first appearance after a September call-up in 1986. He didn’t pitch particularly well, racking up a miserable 5.52 ERA. But it marked the beginning of dominant career featuring four Cy Youngs and eight All-Star nods.

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Now, all of that is practically coming to an end. Possibly marking the last time we’ll see a lot of the Cubs farm system in the majors for a while. With only 28 men available now, there’s much less chance of a young player proving his worth to the team by playing up to the major league challenge and helping the push to the postseason.

It also limits the Cubs’ depth down the stretch. Something that is sorely needed now for the team with all of their injuries. Though the same could be said for other teams. Doug Glanville, in an article on the Athletic (Subscription Required), remarked that such depth had somewhat defined September playoff races in recent years, leading to longer, more complicated games.

There is certainly pace of play benefits to this rule, mainly that managers will no longer be able to drag games out using constant bullpen matchups. But there is some that wonder what’s lost in the process. There’s much less potential for an impact call-up, especially when, on a year like 2019, those three players called up might be big leaguers who were sent down during the season.

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This change is something the game likely needed, but it’s hard to imagine a September without a crowd of wide-eyed minor league players in the dugout. With 40-man teams about to become a relic of the past, we can only look back at all of the memories created by and early looks at the potential stars of Chicago Cubs teams of tomorrow.