Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

New '20 rules: DH in NL, runner on 2nd in extras

@HarriganMLB
June 24, 2020

Major League Baseball announced its plans for a return to play on Tuesday, with a proposed 60-game regular season anticipated to begin on July 23 and 24. As part of its health and safety protocols, MLB will be instituting a number of rule changes for the 2020 campaign. Here's a

Major League Baseball announced its plans for a return to play on Tuesday, with a proposed 60-game regular season anticipated to begin on July 23 and 24. As part of its health and safety protocols, MLB will be instituting a number of rule changes for the 2020 campaign.

Here's a rundown of the changes. The three-batter minimum, a rule change that was instituted this past offseason, will remain in place, requiring pitchers to face at least three batters or pitch to the end of a half-inning, with exceptions for injuries and illnesses.

Universal designated hitter
While the American League adopted the DH rule in 1973, pitchers have continued to hit in games played at National League ballparks. That won't be the case in 2020, as both leagues will use the DH to avoid overtaxing pitchers by having them hit.

Runner on second to begin extra innings
During the regular season, every half-inning after the ninth will begin with a runner on second base. The designated runner would be the player who made the final out the last time his team was at bat (or a pinch-runner). If that runner scores, the pitcher won't be charged with an earned run. This rule will not be in place for the postseason.

Over the past five years, 8.26% of all regular-season games have gone to extra innings. There were 208 extra-innings games in the 2019 regular season, counting for 8.56% of all games.

Position players pitching
There will be no restrictions on position players pitching in 2020.

A rule change installed this past offseason would have required teams to designate every player on the active roster as either a pitcher or a position player, and position players would have been unable to pitch unless it was extra innings, their team was ahead or trailing by more than six runs, or they had qualified for the "two-way" designation. That rule won't be in place during the 2020 season.

Suspended games
If weather forces a game to be cut short before it is official, it will be continued at a later date rather than started from scratch.

Unsportsmanlike conduct
Players and managers will be expected to maintain physical distance from all umpires and opposing players on the playing field whenever possible. Players or managers who leave their position to argue with umpires, come within six feet of an umpire or opposing player or manager for the purpose of argument, or engage in an altercation on the field will be subject to immediate ejection and discipline, including a fine and a suspension. Discipline will be consistent with past precedent, and shall not be reduced or prorated based on the length of the season.

Wet rag
Pitchers will be permitted to carry a small wet rag in their back pocket to be used for moisture in lieu of licking their fingers. Pitchers will not be able to access the rag while on the rubber, and they must clearly wipe the fingers of their pitching hand dry before touching the ball or the rubber. Water is the only substance that will be allowed on the rag.

Thomas Harrigan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @HarriganMLB.