Thursday, February 13, 2020

MLB's 2020 Rules Include 20-Second Replay Clock

Major League Baseball announced rules changes for the 2020 season, including adoption of MLB's previously-proposed three-batter minimum and a pace-of-play oriented Manager's Challenge procedure change for Replay Review.

Pitchers Must Face Three Batters or End an Inning: This rule, which takes effect during Spring Training as of games played on March 12, requires a pitcher to face a minimum of three batters or to end an inning, whichever comes first. One of MLB's goals is to decrease overall game time, and the League identified pitching changes as a significant culprit: Baseball's idea here is to reduce pitching changes via a pitching mandatory minimum rule.

The rule affords an exception for injury: If a pitcher is injured or falls ill prior to completing the three-batter/end of inning obligation, such incapacitation shall afford the team the ability to remove the pitcher at any time. Whether a pitcher is truly incapacitated or unable to continue is subject to discretion of the umpire crew chief.

Another potential loophole is ejection: If a pitcher is ejected (for instance, for intentionally pitching at batter #2), said pitcher will not be required/forced to face subsequent hitter #3.

Example 1: If a starting pitcher walks the the first two batters of the game, said starter shall be ineligible to be removed. Upon walking (or retiring, or giving up a hit, etc.) the third batter, the pitcher will become eligible for substitution (three batter rule).

Example 2: If a relief pitcher inherits a one-out, bases loaded situation and immediately induces an inning-ending double play, that pitcher will be eligible to be removed (offensive team is put out). If, instead, the pitcher gains only a second (but not third) out on the play, the relief pitcher must remain in the game for a second batter. If this second batter grounds out to end the inning, the pitcher may be removed. If the second batter reaches base, the pitcher must face a third batter. Regardless of what happens during the third hitter's at-bat, once this third batsman completes his time at bat (or a third out is made), the pitcher may be replaced.

Reduction in Challenge Time: Another pace of play initiative-turned-rules change pertains to the Replay Review Regulations. In 2020, a Manager has up to 20 seconds from the conclusion of play to decide whether or not to challenge the umpire's call. This is a decrease from last year's time limit of 30 seconds.

Seeing as umpires did occasionally have to enforce the 30-second clock by denying challenge requests by some managers (and, in a few cases, ejected managers for arguing this enforcement), one might surmise that such disputes will increase in 2020, with a 33% reduction in decision-making time allotment.
Related PostReplay Clock Crackdown - Barrett Denies Bochy Review (4/2/19).

Active Roster Limits: Rosters from Opening Day through August 31 will expand from 25 to 26, September rosters must have 28 players (max. 14 pitchers subject to two-way player designation), position players are permitted to pitch only in extra innings and/or any game with a 6+ run differential, and pitcher injured list reinstatements cannot occur sooner than 15 days after initial placement on the Injured List.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: MLB Rules Changes for 2020 - Pitcher & Replay Mods (CCS)


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