Major League Baseball went ahead with the planned changes in its rules for this season, including the requirement that a pitcher must face at least three batters or finish the half inning, unless he is injured. But the long-discussed move is designed in part to reduce the number of mid-inning pitching changes that can serve to elongate games.
Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Julio Urias would be among the hurlers who must retire the opposing side or face a minimum of three batters under a rule change announced Wednesday by Major League Baseball. The umpiring crew chief has the discretion to allow for a substitute pitcher in case of injury. This brand-new guideline, which will mainly eliminate one- and two-batter relief appearances, will be in force since the March 12 spring training schedule.
Starting Sept. 1, all clubs must expand their rosters to 28 active players. Each team can have a maximum of 13 pitchers until August 31 and during the postseason, and 14 from September 1 until the end of the regular season. Previously, teams could bring up anybody on the their 40-man roster in September, often carrying 30-plus players.
Major League Baseball will also now require teams to designate "two-way players" who will be allowed to pitch without counting against the team's pitcher limit.
Two-way players who have at least 20 innings thrown or 20 games started in a designated position or batter with at least three plate appearances in the previous season may pitch without counting against the pitcher's limit of that game. For 2020 just, this will include the 2019 and 2018 seasons. This helps address the status of the Anaheim Angels' starter/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani and Cincinnati Reds' reliever/outfielder Michael Lorenzen.
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Limits to position players pitching: Non-pitchers are only allowed to enter the game as a pitcher if the game goes into extra innings or if either team is leading by more than six runs. They can still do so, temporarily expanding their roster to 27.
Change to pitcher injuries: Pitchers on the injured list must sit for 15 days - up from the previous total of 10.
- Option period: Pitchers optioned to the minor leagues must stay there for 15 days, rather than 10, which is still the minimum for position players.
- In an effort to speed up games, managers will be given 20 seconds, instead of 30, to declare if they will challenge a play.