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Recent Blogs


Quick Hitter: New Rules for 2020

During the 2019 offseason MLB and the MLBPA agreed on various rule changes. Some of these rule changes went into effect in 2019, but there are a few that are going into effect in 2020, and they'll certainly have an impact on the Twins.
Image courtesy of © David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Active Roster
The most notable change for 2020 is the active roster expanding from 25 to 26 through August 31st. This also means that rosters will be upped to 27 from 26 for doubleheaders. In addition, when September rolls around, for the first time since 1920, rosters will only expand to 28 instead of 40.

The most interesting aspect of this roster rule is that teams will be capped on how many pitchers they are allowed to have, which means that they will need to designate who is a pitcher and who is not. Although the number of pitchers has yet to be agreed upon, this means that position players can pitch under two conditions:
  • If the game is in extra innings
  • If a team is winning or losing by six or more runs.
How the Twins handle the extra roster spot will likely be based on need at the time, and it’s hard to predict when we don’t know what the pitcher cap will be. Furthermore, our next rule change actually puts an additional limit on how many pitchers you will use in a game.

Three Batter Minimum
Bid farewell to the LOOGY (Lefty One-Out Guy) and managers playing batter-versus-pitcher matchups, in general. Starting next season, pitchers will need to face a minimum of three batters OR finish the inning.

This is obviously to help with the pace of play, but what makes this interesting is that it's the first rule that will directly impact in-game decisions on almost a nightly basis. In 2019, the Twins brought in a left-handed pitcher to face a single left-handed batter on just two occasions, and with the help of the Baseball Reference Play Index, I estimate that the Twins used a pitcher for less than three batters without finishing an inning 50 different times. That’s all to say that Rocco didn’t seem to use relievers for single matchups much in 2019, so I don’t see this rule negatively impacting the Twins much in 2020.

Injured List
The 10-day IL was a short lived experiment that teams started taking advantage of, specifically with their pitching, so it’s going back to the 15-day DL.

Theoretically, the Twins could use this to gain an edge but I don’t think it’ll be something noticeably different in 2020.

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35 Comments

While I think we can all agree to disagree here and there, the fact is these changes affect every team. If there is any "loser" in these changes, it would be for a team that really likes to play the matchup game in later innings, possibly due to a weaker pen. The one rule change I really hate is the super small roster growth come September. Apparently, MLB is worried about the integrity of the game during the stretch run. As if a poor, 90-100 loss team would provide "worse" competition to a winning team challenging for a post season berth. Really?
    • glunn, mikelink45 and tarheeltwinsfan like this

I agree with DocBauer on the September limit.What this hurts is the minor leaguers.For all the anguish who was really hurt when teams could reward their young players with time on the bench?The pitchers are the ones who will suffer.In September when everyone is worn down the rookie arms helped rest the older arms and this is good, do we want more arm injuries?

 

I do like the three batter rule and I am fine with the 26th man.Teams will still use the 15 day IL like they did the 10 day, but it is another rule change that really does nothing to help anyone.How does it speed up the game?What is the benefit? I liked the commuter train from the minors.

 

    • DocBauer likes this

Cutting commercials is the only way to actually speed up the game, but we all know that will never happen, so instead we are going to change the way the game of baseball is played. When is enough, enough? 

We are bombarded with ads on the ribbon boards, outfield walls, billboards in the stadium, ads in-stadium between innings, behind home plate, on the dugouts and more I can't think of. That says nothing about the endless ads during the broadcasts.

 

Somehow, the Premier League (soccer) makes the 3rd most revenue of any sport in the world (MLB is 2nd, in their defense) without stopping the game at all for commercials. 

    • Thrylos, scottz, raindog and 8 others like this
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Matthew Lenz
Nov 13 2019 08:16 AM

 

While I think we can all agree to disagree here and there, the fact is these changes affect every team. If there is any "loser" in these changes, it would be for a team that really likes to play the matchup game in later innings, possibly due to a weaker pen. The one rule change I really hate is the super small roster growth come September. Apparently, MLB is worried about the integrity of the game during the stretch run. As if a poor, 90-100 loss team would provide "worse" competition to a winning team challenging for a post season berth. Really?

It absolutely affects every team. I don't know how much readers on this site care about every team more than just want to know how it could impact their favorite team, which is why I took it from that vantage point. So, I think we can agree to agree!

 

It's all about pace of play in my opinion. Less players = less pitching changes.

 

 

I would have preferred September stayed the same way as the regular season (with the 26 it'll be for next season), but you can call up anyone from your 40 man roster. Before the game you have to set your 26 man roster, and some guys are healthy scratches (like hockey does).

 

Mostly what'd happen is they'd healthy scratch the 4 SP's that wouldn't pitch for 4 RP, but you could call up 6 RP and rotate them in and out. You could also do the same with hitters. If you need more lefty hitters one day, you healthy scratch a couple righty hitters, and so on.

Nobody hates these changes more than Terry Francona, change my mind

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In all seriousness, though; these changes will take away one of Francona's greatest strengths as a manager. He has always been great with mixing-and-matching his bullpen, and these rules will make that a lot harder for him to do. I think this potentially helps the Twins in 2020, who will probably be fighting with the Indians again in the Central.

 

Cutting commercials is the only way to actually speed up the game

Cutting commercials is hardly the "only way" to speed up the game, and likely not even the most significant way either. The most prominent is likely the pitch clock -- which, to the extent that it would be a change, it would really just be enforcing rules that are already on the books.

 

But in general, I agree that the 3 batter minimum won't do too much to speed up the game, just like the automatic intentional walk and mound visit limits before it. I'd rather see how much the pace / time of game could be improved with a pitch clock before I would have tinkered with this other stuff.

    • ashbury and DocBauer like this

If a player is designated as a hitter are there restrictions on if and when he can pitch?

Great rule change on upping the number of batters to 3. That in fact will certainly improve pace of play more than anything that's been done so far.

 

I'd guess ultimately the September roster change will settle on 30, since that's about where many teams landed anyway.

Couple of points of clarification.If a new reliever comes in to start an inning, he must pitch to 3 batters?Or is a pitcher who comes in during an inning only have to pitch to 3 batters?I understand that if you bring a pitcher in with two outs to pitch to one batter, if he gets him out he doesn't need to return to start the next inning.

 

Also a clarification about something that was touched upon above, however, that hasn't been talked about.I understand the roster increases to 28 on September 1.I, like others I suspect, agree with a limit but think 28 is too low.Say 32 or something.Anyway, I recall one of the FO guys talking about it on a broadcast and referenced the changing of the roster with players scratched somewhat like hockey.Is that a roster for every game?Or maybe every series?If it is every game, the roster would still increase to 40, you would only have 28 of them dressed and in the dugout for each game.The other up to 12 would be in the press box?

 

Has anyone seen the details of this or are we all grasping straws?

What's the rule on this:

 

Braves @ Yankees: Tie game, 3-3; Top of the 7th, Runner on 1st and 3rd, 1 out.  

 

Yankees bring in Zach Britton to face Fred Freeman.After a long 12 pitch AB, Freeman draws a walk to load the bases.Britton gets ready to face Acuna and then Donaldson next. His first pitch to Acuna he forces a 'grimace of pain.'Trainers take no caution and rush right out.They determine that he is injured and needs to be replaced after facing just the one LHB.  

 

Post game: After further evaluation, no damage was done, Britton is Day to Day.  

 

There must be a clause to guard against this?

 

TIA.  

    • Nine of twelve likes this
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Nine of twelve
Nov 13 2019 07:21 PM

I really like the increase to 26 players, but I see no reason to restrict the number of pitchers. Let each team do whatever the manager and GM decide is best.

28 players in September is too low. 40 is certainly too high. I'd say more like 30.

I think the increase in roster size compensates for the longer minimum stay on the injured list. 10 days allowed more flexibility for minor injuries, but having the additional player on the roster makes it easier for teams to deal with a 15-day stay.

I am hugely disappointed in the 3-batter minimum rule. Let managers manage.

 

I love the 26man roster.

I don't think limiting the number of pitchers is that big of a deal as those kind of things sort of work themselves out anyway. You still need a balanced roster.

I think the September roster number is a joke from everything from auditions to gaining depth for playoff teams to get ready.

Not debating the 3 batter minimum rule unto itself, but it does nothing to speed up the game. The guy coming in could simply not have it and suddenly there are runs scored, guys OB for the next RP brought in, and you have accomplished ZERO in speeding up the game. In fact, you could end up lengthening it.
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jorgenswest
Nov 13 2019 07:40 PM
I think there was discussion about an optioned pitcher needing to spend 15 days in the minors. Is that a new rule for 2020 also?

I'm all for a 26 person roster.

 

The other rules seem...unnecessary, like rules for the sake of rules to me. As the NFL has shown, more rules tends to mean more disputes. But time will tell.

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lecroy24fan
Nov 14 2019 12:27 AM

 

I think there was discussion about an optioned pitcher needing to spend 15 days in the minors. Is that a new rule for 2020 also?

Yes any player optioned will need to spend 15 days in the minors. 

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tarheeltwinsfan
Nov 14 2019 07:29 AM

 

I would have preferred September stayed the same way as the regular season (with the 26 it'll be for next season), but you can call up anyone from your 40 man roster. Before the game you have to set your 26 man roster, and some guys are healthy scratches (like hockey does).

 

Mostly what'd happen is they'd healthy scratch the 4 SP's that wouldn't pitch for 4 RP, but you could call up 6 RP and rotate them in and out. You could also do the same with hitters. If you need more lefty hitters one day, you healthy scratch a couple righty hitters, and so on.

When does the minor league season end?The Red Wings last home game in 2020 is September 7, 2020. For most minor league teams the season ends the first week in September. The AAA Championship is mid September. Therefore there will be no minor league games to keep the minor league players "game ready" after the first week in September, unless the team is in a minor league playoff. What happens if a major league starting SS is injured September 15th or 20th? Where does that major league team get a replacement who is "game ready" How do they stay "game ready" with no games being played? How important is it to be "game ready" and what is required after a 2 week layoff?

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John Bonnes
Nov 14 2019 07:32 AM

Do we have any numbers on which teams used relievers the most for less than three batters and didn't finish the inning?

3 batter rule will not speed up the game if he can't get anyone out. Then you bring in another pitcher and hope he can get them out.

10 IL was so easy to abuse with pitchers. It's good that they decided to change it back.
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Cap'n Piranha
Nov 14 2019 11:10 AM

 

What's the rule on this:

 

Braves @ Yankees: Tie game, 3-3; Top of the 7th, Runner on 1st and 3rd, 1 out.  

 

Yankees bring in Zach Britton to face Fred Freeman.After a long 12 pitch AB, Freeman draws a walk to load the bases.Britton gets ready to face Acuna and then Donaldson next. His first pitch to Acuna he forces a 'grimace of pain.'Trainers take no caution and rush right out.They determine that he is injured and needs to be replaced after facing just the one LHB.  

 

Post game: After further evaluation, no damage was done, Britton is Day to Day.  

 

There must be a clause to guard against this?

 

TIA.  

 

There is no rule you can possibly enact to combat this, without simultaneously increasing the odds of injury.Closing the door on this would open a fairly serious window.

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Cap'n Piranha
Nov 14 2019 11:14 AM

 

Cutting commercials is the only way to actually speed up the game, but we all know that will never happen, so instead we are going to change the way the game of baseball is played. When is enough, enough? 

We are bombarded with ads on the ribbon boards, outfield walls, billboards in the stadium, ads in-stadium between innings, behind home plate, on the dugouts and more I can't think of. That says nothing about the endless ads during the broadcasts.

 

Somehow, the Premier League (soccer) makes the 3rd most revenue of any sport in the world (MLB is 2nd, in their defense) without stopping the game at all for commercials. 

 

The premier league does stop the game for 15 minutes at halftime.They also have turned their uniforms into advertisements, to the point where you could be excused if you believed it was the Manchester Chevrolets playing the Brighton American Expresses.I for one prefer the Twins against the Mariners, not the Minnesota United Health Cares against the Seattle Microsofts.

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Rob Manfred's MLB is a joke. Like we needed a more offense friendly environment LMAO.

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Cap'n Piranha
Nov 14 2019 11:22 AM

 

Couple of points of clarification.If a new reliever comes in to start an inning, he must pitch to 3 batters?Or is a pitcher who comes in during an inning only have to pitch to 3 batters?I understand that if you bring a pitcher in with two outs to pitch to one batter, if he gets him out he doesn't need to return to start the next inning.

 

Also a clarification about something that was touched upon above, however, that hasn't been talked about.I understand the roster increases to 28 on September 1.I, like others I suspect, agree with a limit but think 28 is too low.Say 32 or something.Anyway, I recall one of the FO guys talking about it on a broadcast and referenced the changing of the roster with players scratched somewhat like hockey.Is that a roster for every game?Or maybe every series?If it is every game, the roster would still increase to 40, you would only have 28 of them dressed and in the dugout for each game.The other up to 12 would be in the press box?

 

Has anyone seen the details of this or are we all grasping straws?

 

All relievers, regardless of when they enter the game, must either face 3 batters, or finish an inning.Therefore, if you have 2 outs and a lefty up, you can certainly use a loogy, that's just the only opportunity.

 

As I understand it, there is no limit to how many players you have in the dugout, just how many are available to be used.For example, when a player gets hurt, he is free to sit in the dugout during the game even if he is on the IL.If indeed in September you can change your 28-man roster without needing to option players, the 12 players not on the "active roster" will likely just sit in the bullpen/dugout.As other posters have pointed out, if this is the case, all 4 starters not scheduled that day will be deactivated, meaning it's not really a 28 man active roster, it is a 32 man roster (with only 1 starter active, each team can have a mix of 27 relievers/position players).

 

When does the minor league season end?The Red Wings last home game in 2020 is September 7, 2020. For most minor league teams the season ends the first week in September. The AAA Championship is mid September. Therefore there will be no minor league games to keep the minor league players "game ready" after the first week in September, unless the team is in a minor league playoff. What happens if a major league starting SS is injured September 15th or 20th? Where does that major league team get a replacement who is "game ready" How do they stay "game ready" with no games being played? How important is it to be "game ready" and what is required after a 2 week layoff?

Maybe I didn't explain the whole thing properly. You can call up the whole 40 man roster, like you've been able to do every year for lord knows how long. So you've got 40 guys in the locker room that day, and a couple hours before the game you have to hand in the 26 that are going to be on the game roster for that given night.

 

So your question "how do you keep the minor league players game ready?", the answer is that you put them on the game roster a few times between the end of the AAA season and the end of the MLB regular season, and they play in the game.

 

Hopefully that makes more sense.

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