Minor League Baseball Announces Pace Of Play Rules For 2019 Season

Image credit: (Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Minor League Baseball announced on Friday the installation of new rules for 2019 designed to improve the game’s pace of play, including one rule that is expected to make its way to the major leagues for the 2020 season.

Effective immediately in both Double-A and Triple-A, all pitchers are required to face three complete hitters before they can be removed. That is, all three batters (or any pinch-hitters) must complete their time at bat before the pitcher can be removed. The only two exceptions are if the inning ends, or if the pitcher gets hurt and cannot continue. This rule had been thrown around for the major leagues for 2019, but ultimately was delayed until next season.

This rule is not in play at any level of Class A or below.

The league also announced a tweak to the extra-innings tiebreaker rule, which went into place last season. Teams will still begin each extra inning with a runner on second base, which in almost all cases will be the hitter who made the last out of the previous inning. In the case that a pitcher made the last out, however, teams will use the hitter directly preceding the pitcher as the runner on second base. 

Teams above short-season and Rookie-level leagues will also have one fewer mound visit per game. Triple-A teams will be allowed five visits per game, Double-A teams will get seven visits and Class A teams will be allowed nine visits. Teams will be allowed one non-pitching change mound visit per extra inning, as well.

A mound visit is defined as a manager or coach coming to the mound or a player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher. 

“Placing a runner on second base in extra innings accomplished the intended goals and created instant excitement in extra innings, but in a few instances exposed pitchers to serving as baserunners, which was a concern of our partners at Major League Baseball, so this amendment to that rule is an easy and practical solution,” MiLB president Pat O’Conner said. 

“Pitchers facing a minimum of three batters at the advanced levels will limit the number of pitching changes and help keep the game moving at a steady pace, while also providing valuable data for Major League Baseball as they review the impact it has on the pace of play.”

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