After leaving teams to make decisions all winter just assuming rule changes were coming instead of being sure about it, Major League Baseball finally new roster and player usage restrictions today.
Basically, everything that had been rumored for months — the three-batter minimum, the 26-man roster during most of the season (and 28-man roster in September), and the return of the 15-day injured list — is happening.
The official release from MLB:
Rule changes for the 2020 season were announced today by @MLB. pic.twitter.com/cXZrFzHv3F— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) February 12, 2020
The cliff notes version:
- A three-batter minimum for all pitchers, not just relievers
- 26-man rosters for most of the regular season and the postseason, with a maximum of 13 pitchers
- 28-man rosters in September, and every team will be required to carry all 28, with a maximum of 14 pitchers
- The Shohei Ohtani Rule: a player can be designated as a “Two-Way Player” and not count against the team’s pitcher count, but needs to hit thresholds of 20 innings pitched and 20 games started as a position player/DH to qualify
- Position players can only pitch in extra innings or if their team is leading by or trailing by 6+ runs
- Teams will be permitted a 27th player when playing double headers
- Injured List time is being increased back to a minimum of 15 days
- Pitchers who are optioned are required to stay down for 15 days
Clearly, quite a few of the new rules are going to affect the way the Brewers have typically done things over the past few years. Even though they weren’t official until now, it appears some of the team’s moves over the winter — acquiring multiple players who can play multiple positions to make the most of the extra roster spot during the season, or cover the effects of losing the 40-man roster in September — were made to address that.
The most interesting thing will be how David Stearns and Craig Counsell handle September, with only 28 players to work with and the new option restrictions on pitchers making it more difficult to keep the pitching staff well-stocked with fresh arms that allow Counsell to maximize matchups.