MLB will finally get games going in 2020, but not without some stipulations. In order to keep players healthy and happy, the league came together with the Player’s Association to set new rules and regulations.
While it might not be the game of baseball we have all known for many years, fans are mostly just happy to get the ball rolling. MLB made the rule changes official today, which we have outlined below.
- Clubs are allowed to schedule a maximum of 3 exhibition games before Summer Camp ends. There is not a limit on the number of intrasquad games.
- The regular-season schedule will include 40 games within a team’s division as well as 20 interleague games against geographically corresponding divisions.
Health and Safety Regulations
- Each MLB club will need to submit a COVID-19 course of action plan to be approved by the league.
- Clubs will be required to provide expanded room in the stadium that does not limit players to the current dugouts and bullpen spaces.
- There will NOT be an exchange of lineup cards. Instead, the league will approve a mobile application to be utilized by both teams.
- Pitchers may carry a wet rag in their pockets as an alternative to licking their fingers for grip on the ball.
- Spitting in general is now prohibited. This includes saliva, sunflower seeds, and smokeless tobacco.
- Players and umpires are required to physically distance themselves with every opportunity. This includes the following stipulations.
- When the ball hit or thrown out of play, players in the field should move away from the baserunner.
- If a batter is in the box and the catcher needs to relay signs to infielders, the catcher should step forward onto the grass to do so.
- Base coaches should stay in the designated box without approaching players or umpires.
- Players on opposing teams should not socialize or come within six feet of one another prior to games, in between innings, or after the game.
In-Game Rule Changes
- The universal designated hitter will now be utilized in both MLB leagues.
- The three-batter minimum rule that was introduced prior to the coronavirus shutdown will still be in place for 2020. Pitchers must throw to at least three batters before being substituted unless there is an injury.
- Any player may be utilized as a pitcher during a game. The rule was previously going to require the stipulation that it must be during a blowout loss or win.
- The league will strictly enforce the physical distancing requirements. Players and coaches who come within six feet of opposing players or umpires for the purpose of argument or to engage in an altercation are subject to ejections and fines.
- The new extra innings rule will place a runner on second with every inning played beyond regulation. The runner will be the last out of the previous inning unless that happens to be a pitcher subbed in. In that case, it will be the spot in the lineup before said pitcher.
- The player transaction freeze that was in place is now no longer in place as of last Friday.
- The 60-player pools were submitted by each team yesterday, with a few yet to be released. Some of those rosters are not yet entirely filled up, as players still may choose to opt-out of the season.
- August 31st will be the 2020 trade deadline and September 15th will be the 2020 Postseason eligibility deadline.
- There will be a COVID-19 related injury list that does not have a designated length of stay. A player may be placed on the COVID-19 Related IL based on a positive test for COVID-19, confirmed exposure to COVID-19, or if a player exhibits symptoms requiring self-isolation for further assessment.
- On the first day of the season, teams must submit their Opening Day rosters of 30 players with a minimum of 25.
- Each team’s roster limit will be reduced from 30 to 28 on the 15th day of the regular season.
- Each team’s roster limit will be reduced from 28 to 26 on the 29th day of the season and will remain that way through the playoffs.
- If doubleheaders are needed during the season while the active roster is at 26, both clubs are allowed an additional player.
- There will not be any expanded rosters in September.
- There is NOT a limit on the number of pitchers a team can carry.
Overview of the Rule Changes
Fans of baseball will mostly be happy about the fact that baseball is back, but it’s certainly a different game. Some fans are relatively unhappy with the introduction of the universal designated hitter, but it doesn’t seem to be a dealbreaker. MLB is back, and that’s all that really matters at this point in the season.