New Baseball Rules for 2020

mfpark

Some big rules changes go into effect in Spring Training.

The biggest is that pitchers must face a minimum of 3 batters or pitch to the end of an inning.  This is going to really change the role for those one-out lefty relievers who may now have to face right handed batters as well.  It will also speed the game up a bit with fewer pitcher changes.

Here is an article from MLB.com on all the changes:

By David Adler February 12, 2020

Major League Baseball made its rule changes for the 2020 season official on Wednesday.

    There are four categories of rules going into effect: the three-batter minimum for pitchers, roster limits, adjustments to the injured list and option periods for pitchers and two-way players, and a reduction in the time managers have to challenge a play. All but one of these changes -- the one addressing manager challenges -- had been publicly reported prior to Wednesday, but now they are all locked in.

    Here's a breakdown of each rule change.

    THREE-BATTER MINIMUM:
    This is the big one that's been grabbing the headlines since it was first reported.

    All pitchers -- both starters and relievers -- now have to face at least three batters (or pitch until the inning is over) before they come out of a game. The only exception is an injury or illness that prevents the pitcher from being able to finish his three batters.

    The main effect of this rule will be on specialist relievers, who are often used for only one batter to give their team a favorable matchup -- for example, a left-handed pitcher who faces only left-handed hitters, whom he is most likely to get out (often nicknamed a “LOOGY,” for “left-handed one-out guy”). There will be no more of that in 2020. The rule could also impact teams that use openers -- typical relievers who start a game to match up specifically against the top of the opposing order. Now, an opener would have to face at least three batters even if he has a bad matchup in that run.

    The three-batter rule goes into effect in Spring Training on March 12.

    ROSTER LIMITS:
    There are five parts to the roster limits rule change:

    26-man rosters -- Teams' active rosters are being increased from 25 to 26 players for the regular season (through Aug. 31) and during the postseason. Teams are limited to carrying a maximum of 13 pitchers.

    Smaller rosters in September -- MLB is adjusting the size of September rosters to 28 players, including a max of 14 pitchers.

    Previously, when rosters expanded in September, any player on a team's 40-man roster could be added to the Major League club. And while teams usually didn’t use all 40, it was common to see 30-plus players active for a given game in the final month of the season. That often caused longer games in September with teams using a lot more relief pitchers or pinch-hitters in certain situations than they would have been able to with normal roster sizes.

    Two-way player designation -- A "two-way player" -- someone who both hits and pitches -- is now an official designation. That lets them stay on the roster as a position player and pitch in games without counting toward their team's 13-pitcher pitcher limit. If you designate someone a two-way player, they have to stay that way through the end of the year.

    This is for players like the Angels' Shohei Ohtani, a starting pitcher and designated hitter, and the Reds' Michael Lorenzen, who appears as a reliever and also plays the outfield. True two-way players essentially hadn't been seen in the Major Leagues since the days of Babe Ruth until Ohtani arrived from Japan in 2018.

    Players have to meet certain criteria to qualify as two-way players -- in either the current MLB season or the previous one, they have to pitch at least 20 innings in the Majors and start at least 20 games as a position player or DH where they bat three or more times.

    The two-way player designation for 2020 also allows players who met the requirements in 2018 to qualify this season. So Ohtani, who didn't pitch last year because of Tommy John surgery but did pitch as a rookie in '18, can still be named a two-way player for the Angels right away.

    Position players pitching -- Position players are allowed to pitch only if a game goes to extra innings, or if their team is winning or losing by more than six runs. During normal circumstances in a nine-inning game, only the team's 13 designated pitchers -- or two-way players -- are allowed to pitch.

    Teams were using position player pitchers more than ever before in the past couple of seasons. In 2019, more than 50 different position players pitched in at least one game, generally so teams could save their pitchers' arms if they felt a game was out of hand.

    The 27th man -- What used to be the "26th man" is now a "27th man" thanks to the new 26-man roster size.

    Teams used to be able to call up an extra player in special circumstances -- mainly for a doubleheader. They still can ... that player is now just the 27th on the roster, not the 26th. Teams are allowed to call up a 14th pitcher for these games.

    INJURED LIST AND OPTION PERIODS:
    Pitchers and two-way players are returning to a 15-day injured list. That is, once they're placed on the IL, they can't be reinstated for 15 days.

    The injured list used to be 15 days for all players until the 2017 season, when it was reduced to 10 days. Position players will still have a 10-day IL under the new rules.

    Additionally, pitchers who are optioned to the Minor Leagues now have to remain there for 15 days rather than 10. The option period for position players is still 10 days.

    CHALLENGE TIME:
    Managers now only have 20 seconds to decide to challenge a play instead of 30.

    That shortens the amount of time they have to get information about video replays, which might allow them to figure out if they'd win a challenge before they actually challenge the play. Of the changes that were announced on Wednesday, this is the only one that hadn’t previously been reported publicly.

    avid.Adler@mlb.com" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.


    mfpark

    What really scares me is the talk of going to a lottery-style playoff system where teams will get to pick their favored wild card opponents in a made-for-television lottery-drawing show at the end of the season.  

    Here is an article from CBS Sports:

    Major League Baseball is reportedly "seriously weighing" an overhaul of the league's playoff structure, and it would include some radical October changes. The proposal would expand the field from five to seven teams (three division winners, four wild card teams) in each league, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The reported proposal involves a bye for the top team in each league, a three-game wild card round series and the chance for teams to pick their opponents.

    Here are the highlights from the proposal laid out in Sherman's report:

    • Seven teams from each league make postseason
    • Teams with best record in each league get wild card round byes
    • Two other division winners and top wild card team host all games of three-game series in wild card round
    • Two other division winners get to pick their wild card round opponents (during a live broadcast) from three other wild card teams, the top wild card team plays the unpicked team
    • Three series winners and team with a bye advance to divisional round

    This would be a monumental change from the current MLB playoff format (five teams from each league, one-game Wild Card Game), and Sherman reports that the league could implement it starting in the 2022 season.

    Let's use last season's National League playoff picture to illustrate how it might work.

    The Dodgers had the best record, so they'd get the bye to the divisional round. The Braves had the next-best record, followed by the Cardinals. The wild cards, in order, would've been the Nationals, Brewers, Mets and Diamondbacks.

    The Braves would then get to choose their opponent from between the bottom three wild cards. Next up, the Cardinals would then choose between whoever the Braves didn't pick among the Brewers, Mets and D-Backs. Whatever team wasn't picked would then face the Nats.

    On the positive end, having more teams involved in playoff races down to the wire is certainly good for the game and it's possible it would put an end to widespread tanking.

    On the negative end, well, there's pretty much everything else. I've long enjoyed Major League Baseball have the most difficult playoffs for which to qualify and we're removing emphasis on regular-season excellence with more playoff teams. Not only that, look at some of the possible matchups from last season. The Yankees were 19 games better than the Red Sox and they'd need a three-game series win just to make the divisional round? C'mon.

    We all know what tends to win out here, though, and that's the almighty TV dollar. If the networks want a show, they might get it. However, any changes to the playoff structure would have to be agreed to by the players union in the next CBA. The current CBA expires after the 2021 season.


    ml1

    the new playoff scenario is a bad idea.  There generally haven't been seven teams worthy of the postseason in most years.  A three game series that included the Mets last season would have played right into their only real strength -- starting pitching.  A team that was three games out of the wild card last year because they were not a complete team could find themselves in a short series with a decided advantage over a team that was much better overall over the course of a full season.  It's bad enough there's the play-in game, but to add a bunch of really short series to the postseason goes against what a baseball season is supposed to be about determining -- which team is built for excellence over a long season of 162 games.  Any team with one ace starter and not much else would have a decent shot at winning a three game series.


    FilmCarp

    I like the new rule changes, frankly.  As far as the playoff format, I think they floated a trial balloon to see what people say.  

      Here's what I would change in baseball.  The draft order.  No more rewarding teams that tank.  Take the bottom 8 teams.  The upper 4 of those draw straws for the top 4 picks.  The 4 worst teams draw for overall picks 5-8.  Then the rest of the teams pick as usual.  


    Train_of_Thought

    I, for one, think the three-batter minimum is an awful idea that neither solves a problem, cures an unfairness, nor improves the game. That's just me.


    mrincredible

    Train_of_Thought said:

    I, for one, think the three-batter minimum is an awful idea that neither solves a problem, cures an unfairness, nor improves the game. That's just me.

     I agree with this statement. It is a fundamental aspect of baseball strategy. Do I use my Lefty specialist for this batter right now? Or will I need him for later in the game?


    DaveSchmidt

    FilmCarp said:

      Here's what I would change in baseball.  The draft order.  No more rewarding teams that tank.  Take the bottom 8 teams.  The upper 4 of those draw straws for the top 4 picks.  The 4 worst teams draw for overall picks 5-8.  Then the rest of the teams pick as usual.  

    I’ve never thought of tanking as an issue in baseball, because its draft is more of a crapshoot — and more of a development pool — than the NBA’s or NFL’s. What’s the incentive? Do teams typically salivate over the No. 1 or No. 2 pick versus No. 7 or 8? 


    DaveSchmidt

    mrincredible said:

    Train_of_Thought said:

    I, for one, think the three-batter minimum is an awful idea that neither solves a problem, cures an unfairness, nor improves the game. That's just me.

     I agree with this statement. It is a fundamental aspect of baseball strategy. Do I use my Lefty specialist for this batter right now? Or will I need him for later in the game?

    There will still be strategy — do I use my lefty specialist for this batter right now when two righty batters follow? — but I agree, too. I think a one-batter reliever is a legit tactic (unlike, say, intentionally dropping a popup with runners on first and second and one out) that requires no restriction.


    jfinnegan

    I don't know of one person that said they started watching baseball now that the pitchers doesn't have to throw 4 pitches for an intentional walk. Maybe they should automate the umpires for everybody knows what the strike zone is and not as many calls are missed. Get rid of Joe West at the very least.


    ml1

    DaveSchmidt said:

    There will still be strategy — do I use my lefty specialist for this batter right now when two righty batters follow? — but I agree, too. I think a one-batter reliever is a legit tactic (unlike, say, intentionally dropping a popup with runners on first and second and one out) that requires no restriction.

     agree with this. It will certainly lead to lots of discussions and second-guessing of strategy.  But it's a dumb idea.  A solution in search of a problem.


    FilmCarp

    ml1 said:

    DaveSchmidt said:

    There will still be strategy — do I use my lefty specialist for this batter right now when two righty batters follow? — but I agree, too. I think a one-batter reliever is a legit tactic (unlike, say, intentionally dropping a popup with runners on first and second and one out) that requires no restriction.

     agree with this. It will certainly lead to lots of discussions and second-guessing of strategy.  But it's a dumb idea.  A solution in search of a problem.

     I disagree.  Pitching changes take forever.  I don't think any one thing slows the game more.


    ml1

    FilmCarp said:

     I disagree.  Pitching changes take forever.  I don't think any one thing slows the game more.

     how many pitching changes are there in the middle of innings?  Rather than change the rules on how many batters each pitcher faces, they could have put a clock limit on mound visits, and a 60 second clock for when the call goes to the bullpen to when the first pitch must be thrown.  IMHO the stalling when a manager or coach goes to the mound is the real time suck.


    DaveSchmidt

    FilmCarp said:

     I disagree.  Pitching changes take forever.  I don't think any one thing slows the game more.

    Mandate the golf carts!

    More seriously, if less expeditious, is to have batters ready in the box, and not still taking their last swings in the circle, or still hanging out there, when warmups are done. Don Zimmer suggested this in his decade-old memoir I just read.


    tomcat

    Expanding the playoffs has both pros & cons (but I do agree with Best of 3 in place of winner takes all for the wild card game).  Some years there are deserving teams left out, and some years there are teams who barely break 0.500 who make it in.

    To put more pressure on teams to field a competitive roster, I would like to see any team under 0.550 (or 0.575) barred from the playoffs. 


    The_Soulful_Mr_T

    Damn, I saw this thread and hoped they were gonna get rid of the DH.


    oots

    I like the new pitching rule-will create its  own new strategy.  you can still bring in a new guy for the last out-but if he blows it-he stays a little longer.


    ml1

    over at 538.com, it was reported that there was a pitch-tracking era record average of 24.4 seconds between pitches in 2019.  That, more than anything else is responsible for slow play.  The slow play plus the number of commercials between innings are the culprits in making the games as long as they are.

    5 Questions for MLB (That Don't Involve Sign-Stealing)


    Train_of_Thought

    Thought 1:  Giants bring Jerry Blevins in to get out lefty Cody Bellinger. He does, he doesn't, who cares. Next he has to stay in to face righties Mookie Betts and Justin Turner. They both get hits, maybe even a dinger. What do we think happens next? Probably a pitching change, right? So what was achieved by forcing the Giants to stick with Blevins for 3 batters? Rule won't necessarily reduce pitching changes -- but rather may only spread them out (sometimes lengthen the game???). Ineffective pitching will always beget bullpen calls, so the question is whether a 3-batter minimum will beget effective or ineffective pitching. I, myself, suspect the latter.

    Thought 2: Mets lead the Braves at Citi by three runs in the 8th, bases loaded. They go to Familia to face righty Ronald Acuna, who hits a bases-clearing, game-tying triple. Whole stadium is booing. Go ahead run is now on third, with lefty-hitting Ozzie Albies and Freddy Freeman coming up, both of whom are .300+ for their careers vs. Familia. The Mets MUST let Familia face them? What if it's Familia's 4th straight bad outing? How does forcing a team to go against its own self-interest help the game?

    Thought 3: Steven Matz gives up 2 runs in the first two batters to start the game vs. the Phillies, as usual. We have to let him face a third batter???? :-( 


    DaveSchmidt

    Thought 2: I foresee a lot of bases-clearing hits causing muscle spasms on the mound.

    Thought 3: A fan can dream, can’t he?


    FilmCarp

    Thought 4: leave the previous pitcher in to get one more guy 


    jfinnegan

    Do they really think these rules changes are going to bring in new fans? How about take a run away from the team if they strike out ten times in the game? What makes the game unwatchable to me at times is everybody striking out or hitting a homerun. 


    mfpark

    Train_of_Thought said:

    Thought 1:  Giants bring Jerry Blevins in to get out lefty Cody Bellinger. He does, he doesn't, who cares. Next he has to stay in to face righties Mookie Betts and Justin Turner. They both get hits, maybe even a dinger. What do we think happens next? Probably a pitching change, right? So what was achieved by forcing the Giants to stick with Blevins for 3 batters? Rule won't necessarily reduce pitching changes -- but rather may only spread them out (sometimes lengthen the game???). Ineffective pitching will always beget bullpen calls, so the question is whether a 3-batter minimum will beget effective or ineffective pitching. I, myself, suspect the latter.

    Thought 2: Mets lead the Braves at Citi by three runs in the 8th, bases loaded. They go to Familia to face righty Ronald Acuna, who hits a bases-clearing, game-tying triple. Whole stadium is booing. Go ahead run is now on third, with lefty-hitting Ozzie Albies and Freddy Freeman coming up, both of whom are .300+ for their careers vs. Familia. The Mets MUST let Familia face them? What if it's Familia's 4th straight bad outing? How does forcing a team to go against its own self-interest help the game?

    Thought 3: Steven Matz gives up 2 runs in the first two batters to start the game vs. the Phillies, as usual. We have to let him face a third batter???? :-( 

     Thought 4:  Get rid of Familia now so we do not have to watch this happen, over and over and....




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