2020 MLB Rules: Universal DH, Extra Inning Changes and More

John Healy
June 29, 2020 - 3:33 pm
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The 2020 MLB season is all set to go forward with a 60-game regular season as players are expected to report to spring training, or "summer camp," by July 1 and the regular season will begin July 23 and 24.

Not only will the length of the season be different this year, but there will be some changes on the field. On Monday, MLB officially announced what those changes will be:

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Extra Innings

MLB will institute the Minor League Baseball rule for extra innings where a runner will automatically be placed on second base in order to expedite the game. Due to the tight schedule, there is a desire to avoid 15-inning games and longer and taxing the rosters.

Universal DH

The universal DH was part of the terms of the negotiations that the MLBPA rejected, but the National League will indeed still implement the designated hitter for the 2020 season under the safety and health protocols for the first time in MLB history.

Per Jon Heyman, the universal DH will likely be used this season, but not in 2021, as per the owners’ proposal that was rejected.

Division Realignment

Teams will only play against other teams within its own division and the five teams in the division of the other league. So, for example, AL East teams would play 40 games within the division and 20 games against the NL East teams.

The objective in creating the schedule this way is to limit the travel schedules as much as possible, although it is not a perfect science as many teams will still be traveling far distances to play games.

Licking Fingers and Spitting

This is an odd one, but actually well thought out. Many pitchers like to lick their fingers to help get a good grip when throwing the ball, but because that would be an easy way to possibly transmit coronavirus, the league has decided on an alternative.

Per Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com, pitchers will be able to carry a wet rag in their pocket to substitute for licking fingers – a much more sanitary method. It will be interesting to see if pitchers can avoid the force of habit, though.