Kansas City Royals

MLB announces rule changes involving pitcher usage, roster limits, inning breaks

Small changes are coming to Major League Baseball this season with bigger ones arriving in 2020 the league announced Thursday.

One of the most significant alterations for the 2020 season will affect pitching. Starters and relievers will be required to face a minimum of three batters or to end a half-inning, except for “incapacitating injury or illness.”

Also coming in 2020, each team’s pitching staff on an active roster will be capped at a number that will be decided on by a committee of MLB and the players’ association. Teams will be required to designate players as a pitcher or position player before each player’s first day on the active roster.

That will essentially put an end to position players taking the mound in a blowout.

Starting in 2020, each team’s roster will increase by one player to 26, and on Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season, each team will have 28 players on the roster instead of as many as 40.

The changes for the 2019 season won’t be as drastic.

Starting with games later this month, mound visits will be decreased from six to five and commercial breaks will be shortened. For local broadcasts, the inning break will be cut by 5 seconds, while breaks in national games will be trimmed by 25 seconds. In both instances, the breaks will be 2 minutes.

Additionally, there will be only one trade deadline on July 31. The August waiver trades will be eliminated. The league announced that players will be placed and claimed on outright waivers after July 31, but trades won’t be allowed after that date.

The All-Star Game also will be tweaked. The total prize money for the Home Run Derby will increase to $2.5 million and the winner will get $1 million. Starters for the Midsummer Classic will be chosen in a one-day “Election Day” by fans who will choose among three finalists at each position. The finalists will be picked via the online voting system that was in place last season.

If the All-Star Game goes to extra innings, each half inning will begin with a runner on second base.

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From covering the World Series to the World Cup, Pete has done a little bit of everything since joining The Star in 1997. He writes about baseball and has a quirky blog that augments The Star’s coverage of area teams.