Written By Mark Collier
RP - MATT STRAHM (Photo Credit: Mark Collier)
One very notable rule change that will take place in the 2020 MLB season is once a team makes a pitching change, now that pitcher must face a minimum of three batters or get three outs, obviously whichever comes first.
Why does this matter?
First off, the days of lefty specialists (such as former Padres Ryan Buchter) who would come in to face a a single hitter is effectively being phased out of the game. Why? Presumably as part of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's goal of speeding up the game. The goal here is to eliminate the amount of pitching changes and mound visits.
What makes this update significant is that this rule change changes the strategy of the game which is fairly uncommon for MLB rule changes.
Managers also now have to give even more consideration to how and when they'll use their bullpen arms and general managers now likely will target via free agency or in trades pitchers for the middle innings who can get out both right handed and left handed pitchers. In all likelihood many of these players will be converted starters or bullpen arms who are used to throwing an inning or two.
- What pitcher should I bring in given the requirement to face three hitters?
- Who are the next three hitters?
- Will we see more starters converted to relievers? Drew Pomeranz and Matt Strahm come to mind.
Spring Training will be a good opportunity to see the rule change in action. I'm currently not sold on this update to be honest, but I do understand the reasoning behind it. Its safe to say that by early March 2020 we'll know more about how drastic this change will be for players and managers. Fingers crossed that this is an improvement that helps the game.