The 2020 Major League Baseball season is nearing the end. There are four days remaining in the regular season, then 16 lucky teams will take part in the Wild Card Series. The eight Wild Card Series winners will move to bubbles for the LDS, LCS, and World Series. Let's hope the regular season and postseason can be completed safely.
Throughout the season my fellow CBS Sports MLB scribes and I will bring you a weekly roundtable breaking down, well, pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we looked at the most disappointing teams in 2020. This week we're tackling MLB's rule changes.
Which 2020 rule changes should MLB keep going forward, if any?
Katherine Acquavella: First and foremost, I would like to see the universal DH stay. Here's hoping players are ready to approve the rule permanently in the next CBA. I'm also a fan of the expanded postseason, although I think 14 is the magic number, not the 16 they're going with for this year's playoff field. Seven-inning doubleheaders are also fine with me.
Some of the rules from 2020 that I can do without: Placing a runner on second base in extra innings to speed up the game and three-batter minimum for pitchers. I think the three-batter minimum takes away from the managers' strategy of determining the matchups and while the runner on second rule may end the game faster/possibly provide more action on the basepaths, I think it affects the chances of winning/losing too much. I just don't see how the those two rule changes made a big enough impact on 'speeding up the game' to keep them for good. They're both theoretically designed to save time, but neither are worthy of adjusting the game's strategies that much to implement.
R.J. Anderson: I would be fine with the seven-inning doubleheaders sticking around. I'm not proponent of shortening the standard game -- nine innings should be treated as the gospel -- but I think there's value in keeping the minor-league approach in place for twin billings, if only to minimize the wear-and-tear on relievers, who are already being asked to do more than in the past. I'll concede that might be ideologically inconsistent of me -- making an exception for and only for doubleheaders -- but life is full of ideological inconsistencies, and this isn't the worst of it.
Mike Axisa: Keep the universal DH, obviously. No one misses pitchers hitting. I thought I would hate the extra innings tiebreaker rule but I love it because it creates action. I'm fine with keeping it for the regular season only (use regular extra innings rules in the postseason). Seven-inning doubleheaders is not for me. Pass on that.
Under-the-radar rule change I like: regional play. It'll never stick long-term because MLB wants to market the game, and you need to give fans across the country a chance to see Mike Trout, the Yankees, etc. in their ballpark. But regional play equals less travel and thus fresher and healthier players, which improves the quality of play. Also, it'll reduce MLB's carbon footprint, which is a noble cause at best and a nice fringe benefit at worst. Again, I don't expect this to happen, but I like regional play and would be cool with it sticking around.
Dayn Perry: Keep all of them, in my opinion. I don't enjoy seeing pitchers bat on account of their extreme incompetence at doing so, which is why I support the DH in the National League. I also actually like the thin margins for error with the extra innings rule -- i.e., starting each frame with a runner on second -- so I'd like to see that one stick, as well. I don't really feel one way or the other about seven-inning doubleheaders, but as noted limiting reliever workloads is a good idea where you can implement it.
Matt Snyder: Almost all of them!
- I've long wanted the DH in the NL, so obviously I'm totally in favor of keeping that.
- I didn't think I wanted a three-batter minimum for relievers, but it's a slog -- especially in the playoffs -- to see relievers face one hitter and then have to sit through another pitching change. Not only that, this has been better for reasons other than "pace of play." I love the idea of the strategy involved in thinking ahead. Let's say there are two righties coming up with two outs, two runners on and a two-run lead for the pitching team. Said righties coming to the plate struggle mightily against right-handed pitching. You go to a righty, obviously. But what if the hitter after those two is Bryce Harper. Now you're rolling the dice that you get one of the two hitters out. Otherwise you're dealing with Harper against a righty reliever with the game on the line. I love having to think things through like this.
- I initially was against the runner on second in extras for any season beyond 2020 and understood why it needed to happen this year. Now that I've seen it, I love it and never want it to go away. Marathon, 18-inning games aren't good for anyone. More action on the basepaths is great in selling the product. I can see the argument for those who want to wait until the 11th or 12th before we do the baserunner on second thing and that's OK, but I'm 100% against ever returning to starting every single extra inning like it's a normal inning.
- I love the seven-inning doubleheaders, especially since, moving forward, we'll rarely be having doubleheaders.
The one I hate is having eight playoff teams with a first round of three games. It was fine this season because #2020. In a 162-game season, however, matching up a 100-plus win team against a team under .500 in a three-game series totally makes a mockery of the regular season. Let's hope they at least go down one to seven teams per league.