NEW YORK (AFP) — Every starting or relief pitcher will be forced to face at least three batters in one of several rule changes for the 2020 season announced Wednesday by Major League Baseball (MLB).
Managers often have used relievers to face a single hitter in specific situations, but the change, which begins with pre-season games on 12 March, will force major strategy alterations.
If the pitcher can force the inning-ending third out by the batting team, he could leave the mound without having to face as many as three batters.
But it makes the gamble of sending in a reliever even trickier for major league managers.
Now the pitcher who might be perfect to retire a certain batter must end the inning or remain in place for at least the next two hitters behind him in the order, which could cause greater headaches.
If a pitcher enters the game while a hitter is into his time at bat, that hitter shall count as the first one he must face.
The rule has an injury caveat, saying a pitcher must remain “unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire crew chief’s judgment, incapacitates him from further play as a pitcher.”
Club managers also saw their time to challenge plays and force video review reduced from 30 to 20 seconds.