Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
It’s no secret the 2020 Major League Baseball season will be unconventional due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. With the season getting started in July, there only will be 60 games before the postseason begins, and travel will be severely limited.
Additionally, MLB decided to implement new rules for the 2020 season only. One of those is that extra innings will begin with a runner on second base. The change of course comes from the Minor Leagues, and is meant to save pitching staffs that will be taxed with only a few off days.
While there had long been speculation the new rule would eventually make its way to MLB games, the feedback generally hasn’t been positive.
That includes from Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who wondered in an interview on ESPN L.A.’s “The Sedano Show” how the free baserunner will affect his statistics:
“As a pitcher, you’re always going to play competitive and want your team to win. But it’s like, OK, is that run going to be charged to me? Is that going to be an earned run or (unearned) run? I know as a competitive pitcher, I guarantee no pitcher wants that on their stats. So that’s going to be interesting.”
The runner on second base will not count as an earned run for relievers if he comes across to score, although that reliever would take the loss if his team is not able to come back.
Jansen has particularly struggled with runners on second base throughout his career, even going as far as balking some runners over to third during the 2019 season so he didn’t have to deal with them potentially relaying signs.
He won’t have that luxury in 2020 if he enters in extra innings with the game tied, so he may need to put in some extra work to get comfortable pitching with runners on.
Another big rule change MLB is making is that both leagues will have the designated hitter for the first time. Jansen can swing the bat better than most relievers as a former catcher, but this is actually a rule change he is in favor of:
“The DH I kind of like. The universal DH, to me, is awesome. I believe why should we have pitchers hit? We don’t practice that, we practice pitching. I think it’s great to give other young guys opportunities to be in the big leagues, so you have another spot there. To me, that will help the game get better. Because to me, I’m sorry, but I never got that rule of a pitcher to go out there. It’s just an easy out. You don’t want that. I think the DH will be exciting.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed that L.A. will not have one set DH in 2020, rather use it as an opportunity to get regular players off their feet for a day.
That gives the Dodgers a huge advantage as they look to stay healthy and get back to the World Series in a shortened season.
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