As if the MLB wasn’t already having a strange enough year as it was, we now have another big rule change coming to the game. The league alongside the player’s union have agreed to change up double-headers in the wake of the Marlins COVID outbreak.
The situation with the Marlins is still ongoing at the moment. With that in mind, MLB understands that there are likely going to be plenty of doubleheaders played in 2020. As such, they have decided to cut down those games to only 7 innings.
MLB, union making progress on deal that would allow for doubleheaders consisting of two seven-inning games, sources tell me and @Jaysonst. Would be for 2020 season only. Parties believe more doubleheaders will be necessary as schedule is adjusted. Idea is to preserve pitching.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 30, 2020
The new rule will only be for the 2020 season and it is designed with players’ health in mind. If you can game down to 14 innings rather than 18, MLB figures it can keep players safe and protected better.
In addition to the 7 innings rule, MLB is also looking at expanding the roster sizes to 30 players for the remainder of the season. That number was supposed to come down to just 28 players next week. Both of these rules are designed to not only keep layers fresh but to keep them off of the field. Understandable, given that the pandemic numbers are still raging out of control in the United States.
According to The Athletic, non-virus injuries to pitchers in the first week of this season have come at a historic rate. Five times the number of pitchers that hit the injured list last year during the first week have already hit the IL this year. At that rate, MLB could run out of pitchers before the coronavirus is able to shut it down.
MLB Makes it Official
The injuries combined with the recently heightened risk of contracting COVID are problematic. That has led MLB officials to make drastic changes such as this. Major League Baseball and the MLBPA made the announcement Friday that the double-header rule would become official.