MLB Rule Changes Announced for 2020 Campaign
Not too long after potential future playoff changes dominated MLB conversations, changes on a different level are already underway. Recently Major League Baseball released the definitive rule changes that will take place for the upcoming 2020 season.
Three Batter Minimum
Perhaps the more notable change to the 2020 season will be the enforcement of a three batter minimum. From starters to relief pitchers, all who toss off the mound will have to face at least three batters before exiting in any fashion. The pitcher must go until the third batter reaches base or is called out or if the inning ends for the team as a whole.
This change won’t take long before it’s activation as the changes will occur on Thursday, March 12th during MLB Spring Training. The moment that the rule goes into play, it will definitely change the ever-popular “opener” role. Following the term’s inception brought forth by the Tampa Bay Rays, an “opener” role quickly rose in popularity. It was a short-lived reign that appeared prominently in the postseason thanks to the Milwaukee Brewers and other teams. Now that futuristic idea is not so ideal.
Breaking into some of the more minutiae of things, there will also be various changes to the active roster limits. That includes increasing roster limits from 25 to 26 players starting from opening day through August 31st. Within that same time frame, clubs will be allowed to carry 13 pitchers. That includes postseason games as well.
The closer the season progresses to the postseason, the more changes seem to take place. From September 1st through the end of the season and throughout the postseason, teams must carry 28 players on the active roster. Additionally, that same time frame offers teams 14 pitchers instead of 13.
There will also be more thought put into the two-way player and their designation in games. Players may appear as a pitcher without counting against the club’s pitching limitations. They must qualify as being a two-way player beforehand and managers must designate players as two-way before each game. To qualify as a two-way player, an individual must have logged at least 20 innings pitched and 20 major league games started. They also must have at least three plate appearances logged within those games.
Other roster changes include positional players pitching. Some flexibility has been added to the mix. Now, following the ninth inning of an extra-inning game or one with a six-point difference, a position player can enter as a pitcher and not count towards limits.
Extra Player Rule
The previous 26-player rule will now be bumped up one to 27 for all games prior to September 1st. Teams will be able to call up an extra player (the “27th man) in special circumstances which mostly involves a doubleheader. For that specific time frame, that player doesn’t count towards the overall roster limits. A team can also call up a 14th pitcher for these games.
What was a minimum of ten days on the injured list will now be bumped up to 15 days for the 2020 season.
In terms of challenges for the 2020 campaign, managers will have just 20 seconds following a play to challenge, a reduction from 30 last season.
The biggest change will undoubtedly be the three batter minimum but the rest of the changes will show themselves throughout the season. Only time will tell how the MLB rule changes will affect the overall game. This should be an interesting season.