I reported on it last year, and as of yesterday, it’s been made official. The New York Yankees and the New York Mets each have to contend with only 13 pitchers on their pitching staff (5 starters, and 8 relievers), and each pitcher must face a minimum of 3 batters if brought in at the start of an inning.
September/Double Header Rules
In the instance of September call ups, or doubleheaders, you can add a maximum of one pitcher to your 13 man staff. The chiefest exceptions to the three batter rule are if a pitcher is brought in and gets hurt or sick on the mound. The decision for the pitcher to be taken out of the game at that point falls to the umpire. Someone like Shohei Ohtani won’t count against the pitching limit because he’d be a two-way player, he just needs 30 starts as a pitcher and 30 starts as a DH. But gone is the exception that you only have to face 1 batter if you’re brought in with one 2 outs in the inning. All pitchers must complete 3 at-bats faced.
Tough Calls to Make
Lefty/righty specialists are now extinct. I for one am happy. If you’re a big-league, left-handed pitcher, and you can’t get right-handed batters out (and you’ll face more right-handed hitters than lefties), you don’t deserve a spot on the roster until you can get both out. And if you can’t, change positions or quit.
But a maximum of 13 pitchers means only 8 in the bullpen, as 5 spots on your staff are taken up by your starters. Who stays and who goes puts a stronger emphasis on regular dependability during the seasons as opposed to one awesome year, followed by a mediocre, and then a bad season. Tommy Kahnle has an added incentive to perform, as the 2018 season wasn’t particularly kind to him. Chad Green can’t start slow like he did last season, to then come back and be an opener. And the disaster that was Edwin Diaz in 2019 will almost certainly result in him getting DFAed in 2020, as you don’t have as much room to play with if you don’t have your stuff that day, week, month, or season.
On the bright side, it also allows teams to carry a bigger bench full of more diverse positions. Being stuck with a backup catcher, a backup infielder, and a backup outfielder puts ANY team in a bind during a 162 game slog.