Jim Kaat says 7-inning games would enhance pitching staffs, bring in new fans

Jim Kaat has been around baseball for most of his 79 years, and he doesn't like what he sees in the game today.

So Kaat, a left-handed pitcher whose MLB career began in 1959 and spanned four decades, offered up a radical plan to improve the sport in The Athletic on Friday.

Seven-inning games.

Katt, who has worked in the broadcast booth since 1986 with the Yankees, Twins, NBC and ESPN, and still does an occasional game for MLB Network, says the league's pace of play rules are not enough -- "a little blip on the screen."

Now a special assistant to the Minnesota Twins, Kaat offered up these arguments for his plan:

• It would restore the importance of starting pitchers: "Go five," Kaat said, "and then turn it over to the setup man and closer."

• It would reduce the size of pitching staffs: "When I broke in, there were 16 teams, eight in each league," Kaat said. "You had basically 10 pitchers on a staff, 160 in all of the major leagues. Now you have almost 400."

• It would help bring back four-man rotations, allowing some of the biggest stars in the game to pitch more often: "We went every four days back when we were pitching 300 innings," Kaat said. "These guys are bigger, better, stronger. It would just be a matter of training them."

Kaat dismissed the notion that seven-inning games would render obsolete the history books and the stats that drive so many baseball fans.

"To me, the record book has been distorted over the years in so many ways -- expansion, the DH, 13-man pitching staffs, steroids, can't brush hitters off the plate, livelier bats, hitters diving into the ball," Kaat said. "Craig Kimbrel just got his 300th save. That's a great accomplishment. But 300 saves when Kimbrel does it is a lot different than when Bruce Sutter did it."

Kaat thinks his plan would shorten games and bring in more fans. He says it might keep players healthier. And most important, it might make the game more interesting.

"It's become a home run derby, with more strikeouts," Kaat said. "The fans and players deserve better."