On Wednesday, Major League Baseball officially announced their new rules changes for the 2020. Some of them were already reported on previously and some were not.
MLB announced a bevy of rule changes on Wednesday, some of which have been reported on previously and some not, and by the reactions of both Colorado Rockies fans and fans of other teams on social media, it seems to be a mixed bag.
Let’s take a look at all of the rule changes.
All pitchers must face a minimum of three batters, including the batter then at bat (or any substitute batter). The exceptions are when an inning is completed, a pitcher “sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire crew chief’s judgment, incapacitates him from further play as a pitcher.”
This rule will become effective in 2020 Spring Training beginning on Thursday, March 12th so early Spring Training games will not be subject to the rule.
Active Roster Limits
From Opening Day through August 31st, the active roster limit will be increased from 25 players to 26. In addition, teams will only be permitted to carry a maximum of 13 pitchers from Opening Day through August 31st (plus postseason games).
Now, for the Colorado Rockies, Bud Black can have a five-man bench, which he didn’t often have before because he liked to carry 13 pitchers, so he had a four-man bench.
There is also the “Extra Player Rule.” Before, team’s were allowed to carry a 26th player for doubleheaders and now, that rule will increase to a 27th player, with a maximum of 14 of those players being pitchers.
From September 1st through the end of the season (including any tiebreaker games), all teams must carry 28 players on their active roster, with a maximum of 14 pitchers allowed.
This replaced the previous rule in which teams could carry as little as their 25-man roster to as much as their entire 40-man roster.
Two-Way Player Designation
Players who qualify as “Two-Way Players” may appear in a game as a pitcher without counting toward a team’s pitcher limitations.
A player will qualify as a “Two-Way Player” only if he accrues both: (I) at least 20 Major League innings pitched; and (II) at least 20 Major League games started (as a position player or designated hitter) with at least three plate appearances in each of those games, in either the current season or the prior season. For the 2020 season only, this will include both 2018 and 2019.
The team must designate a player as a “Two-Way Player” in advance of that game. Once a team designates a qualified “Two-Way Player” that designation will remain in effect for the rest of the regular season and postseason and cannot change.
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Position Players Pitching
Here is where we get into some of the rules that have been talked about very little or not at all.
This rule designates that a “player may appear as a pitcher following the 9th inning of an extra inning game, or in any game in which his team is losing or winning by more than six runs when the player enters as a pitcher.”
Injured List Reinstatements and Option Period for Pitchers
Teams cannot reinstate pitchers or two-way players from the Injured List until 15 days have elapsed from the date of the initial placement for such injury. It used to be this way for all players up until a few years ago but it was shortened to 10 days. In addition, the option period for pitchers will be lengthened from 10 days to 15 days.
For position players, the 10-day minimum for the injured list and option period remains at 10 days. The exception to the option rule for both pitchers and position players is if someone goes on the injured list on the active 26-man MLB roster prior to the option time for the player elapses.
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Reduction in Challenge Time
This rule was not covered at all prior to the changes being announced on Wednesday. Managers will now have up to 20 seconds to challenge a play. Previously, it was 30 seconds so this was likely put in place to keep the pace of play going and make it where the egregious missed calls are challenged, not necessarily the ones that could be a tossup.
Also, it should be noted that each umpire crew chief will now wear microphones to announce what the conclusion of each challenge was, much like it is in the NFL.
Most of these rules are very small rules that won’t impact games that often. I think the biggest change will be the three batter rule but considering that one of the exceptions is if an inning is completed, I don’t think it will be as big of a deal as it seems to be.
I think the best change is the challenge time reduction. If you can’t tell by the first replay that a call was wrong, then play needs to resume, which is essentially what would happen. It is supposed to help prevent the egregious calls (e.g. Don Denkinger in the 1985 World Series or Jim Joyce in the Armando Galarraga imperfect game), not the ones that you can’t tell after looking at the replay for time on end.
Umpires wearing microphones will make fans in the stadium aware of what was being challenged and the conclusion (e.g. a “call stands” and a “call confirmed” result in the same thing). They can also announce the rules too if a rules check is challenged. Also too, it prevents broadcasters from being clueless on what happens because it has happened on a lot of broadcasts (believe me, I’ve heard/seen a number of broadcasts from a number of teams where they have no idea whether a call stood or was confirmed).
Therefore, fans at home will know what is going on too, which is the goal in the first place.