Updated: Feb 17, 2020
The Major League Baseball season will open Thursday, March 26, 2020. With the upcoming season there will be rule changes in five categories as was announced by the MLB on Wednesday.
All but one, manager's challenge time, had been previously reported prior to yesterday. However, with concentration on the off-season free agency and trades, this is a review of what is now in stone for the 2020. *This does not include 'home plate robots' or a pitcher's time clock.
CATEGORIES ARE AS FOLLOWS:
Three-batter minimum for pitchers
The 27th man
Adjustments to the injured list and option periods
Reduction in time for manager's to challenge a play
THREE-BATTER MINIMUM for pitchers was discussed as far back as the latter portion of the 2019 season. This change is the only one that affects play on the field and the rule will go into effect during Spring Training games beginning March 12.
This pertains to all pitchers, starters and relievers, and each must face a minimum of three hitters or finish the inning before coming out of a game. Exception: Injury or illness that may affect a pitcher from completing the 'requirement'.
"Pace of Play" ear-tag. This rule for the most part focuses on specialty relievers. No more one pitcher - one hitter in late inning play. As we have seen, a left-handed pitcher (nickname "LOOGY" for "left-handed one-out guy) is brought in to face a lefty at the plate. Then another switch is made. Essentially, no more micro-managing the bullpen eliminating extra time that is given for the switch. This also effects (what I have referred to as the 'New Era Baseball') teams using a reliever to begin a game, in an effort to 'take care of' the top-of-the-order. The designated reliever, 'the opener', must face the top three, even if all well laid out plans go south, before the regular starter replaces him.
ROSTER LIMITS has five parts to the new rule:
26-man rosters. What was the customary 25-man roster, now becomes a 26-man roster for the regular season up until August 31 and postseason. Maximum pitchers on the roster will be 13.
Smaller rosters in September. We won't see a maximum of 40 players made available in the fall beginning in 2020. MLB has reduced the number to 28, with a max. of 14 pitchers. Not all teams placed the full amount on their rosters in September leaving room for add-on's if they felt it necessary. Supposedly (another "Pace of Play" ear-tag) games became longer in the last month of the regular season with increased use of relievers and pinch-hitters for certain situations not used with the 'normal' roster size. Now, they won't have that luxury, which cuts into call-ups from the affiliated minor leagues. Definitely will be a very selective decision made.
Two-way player designation. Breakdown - 'a two-way player' who hits and pitches. Now, is to be officially designated as such. Once listed as a 'TWP', the player remains so until the end of the season. This allows them to stay on the roster as 'position and pitcher' and does not affect the 13-pitcher limit. In my opinion, thi