During the 2019 offseason MLB and the MLBPA agreed on various rule changes. Some of these rule changes went into effect in 2019, but there are a few that are going into effect in 2020, and they'll certainly have an impact on the Twins.
The most notable change for 2020 is the active roster expanding from 25 to 26 through August 31st. This also means that rosters will be upped to 27 from 26 for doubleheaders. In addition, when September rolls around, for the first time since 1920, rosters will only expand to 28 instead of 40.
The most interesting aspect of this roster rule is that teams will be capped on how many pitchers they are allowed to have, which means that they will need to designate who is a pitcher and who is not. Although the number of pitchers has yet to be agreed upon, this means that position players can pitch under two conditions:
- If the game is in extra innings
- If a team is winning or losing by six or more runs.
How the Twins handle the extra roster spot will likely be based on need at the time, and it’s hard to predict when we don’t know what the pitcher cap will be. Furthermore, our next rule change actually puts an additional limit on how many pitchers you will use in a game.
3 batter minimum
Bid farewell to the LOOGY (Lefty One-Out Guy) and managers playing batter-versus-pitcher matchups, in general. Starting next season, pitchers will need to face a minimum of three batters OR finish the inning.
This is obviously to help with the pace of play, but what makes this interesting is that it's the first rule that will directly impact in-game decisions on almost a nightly basis. In 2019, the Twins brought in a left-handed pitcher to face a single left-handed batter on just two occasions, and with the help of the Baseball Reference Play Index, I estimate that the Twins used a pitcher for less than three batters without finishing an inning 50 different times.
That’s all to say that Rocco didn’t seem to use relievers for single matchups much in 2019, so I don’t see this rule negatively impacting the Twins much in 2020.
The 10-day IL was a short lived experiment that teams started taking advantage of, specifically with their pitching, so it’s going back to the 15-day DL.
Theoretically, the Twins could use this to gain an edge but I don’t think it’ll be something noticeably different in 2020.
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