Major League Baseball officially announced on Wednesday the adoption of several new rules for the 2020 season, including the somewhat controversial requirement that relief pitchers must face at least three batters or finish the inning before being taken out of the game.
Commissioner Rob Manfred had pushed for the three-batter minimum as a way to cut down on the number of pitching changes during a game and speed up the pace of play.
The only way a pitcher can be taken out in the middle of an inning without facing at least three batters is in case of an injury, which the umpire crew chief would have to confirm.
Roster expansion: Each team will add one player to its game-day roster, increasing the number of active players from 25 to 26. Also, teams are not allowed to carry more than 13 pitchers.
Starting Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season, active rosters of all teams will increase to 28 players, with a maximum of 14 pitchers.
Position players pitching: To cut down on the number of position players taking the mound, the use of non-pitchers will be limited to games in extra innings or games in which one team is winning by six or more runs.
In addition, players who have pitched at least 20 innings and played at least 20 games in the field (as a position player or designated hitter) while getting three or more at-bats can be designated as a two-way player.
Two-way players don’t count against the maximum number of pitchers a team can have on its active roster.
Injured list: The current 10-day injured list will be for position players only. Pitchers and two-way players cannot be activated from the injured list for 15 days. And pitchers optioned to the minors must remain there for at least 15 days, unless there is an injury to another pitcher on the major league roster.
Video challenges: Managers will now have 20 seconds to decide whether to challenge an umpire’s call. They previously had 30 seconds.
The changes go into effect with the spring training games on March 12.