MLB Announces Rule Changes for 2020 Season

Major League Baseball released the new rules that will be in effect for the 2020 season Wednesday afternoon. Some of them had been swirling around the baseball world as rumors, but now they are official. Below are the new rules, explained.

Three-batter minimum for pitchers

This one has been floating around since before last season ended. During Rob Manfred’s tenure as commissioner, the biggest issue he has taken on is pace of play. This rule will target pitching changes, which take at least a couple minutes per change. By requiring every pitcher to face at least three hitters, the frequency of pitching changes, in theory, will drop significantly.

The change makes one-batter specialists obsolete. It will almost be imperative for managers to alternate between left-handed and right-handed hitters to force the opponent to pitch to at least one hitter of the opposite handedness.

Teams only have 20 seconds to decide to challenge a call

Since the inception of the manager’s challenge, the skipper has had 30 seconds to ask the crew chief to review a call. In 2020, team replay staffs will be on an even bigger time crunch. This rule is seemingly indifferent to fans, but hey, every second counts, right?

Active roster size increases

The active roster will expand from 25 players to 26, and teams can carry a maximum of 13 pitchers. This will be in effect from Opening Day to Aug. 31, halted for the month of September and resumed in October for the postseason. Teams can still call up one player, regardless of position, for a doubleheader.

Fewer September call-ups

Previously, anyone on the 40-man roster was eligible to dress for a game in September. In 2020, teams can only have 28 players on their active rosters. Games in September had been usually longer than any other month due to the expanded rosters allowing for more players to get big league appearances. MLB appears to be aiming for a happy middle ground here, still allowing September call-ups while working on Manfred’s desire to speed up the pace of play.

Two-way player designation

Next, there is a new spot on the roster that can serve as a loophole to the 13-pitcher limit. The newly-created “two-way player” designation, crafted for guys like Shohei Ohtani and Michael Lorenzen, encompasses players that record 20 innings pitched and 20 games with three plate appearances in a season.

Position players pitching

Besides two-way players, position players cannot pitch unless the difference in the game is six or more runs, or if the game has gone beyond nine innings. There have never been any such restrictions in place, but after 50 different position players pitched in games last season alone, Manfred decided it was time to make a change.

Injured list and option requirements

In 2017, the 10-day injured list replaced the 15-day injured list. In 2020, the 15-day injured list will return, but only for pitchers. Position players must wait 10 days before returning to the active roster from an injury or a stint in the minor leagues while pitchers have to wait 15.

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