The biggest issues in the new labor agreement, and those that largely led to the 99-day lockout, will not be visible to fans on opening day.
While some of the onfield rule changes discussed — like the elimination of shifts, larger bases, and the introduction of a pitch clock — will have to wait at least until next year, there will be some notable differences in major league baseball this season, particularly in October.
Here’s a breakdown of the changes, courtesy of the new CBA:
The postseason field will expand from 10 to 12 teams, meaning there will be an additional wild card in each league and no more one-game playoffs.
The top two teams in each league – the division winners with the top two records – receive byes in the first round, while the third division winner receives the third wild card, and the top two wild cards each go head-to-head in a three-game series.
The number 1 then plays against the winner of the top two wild cards and the number 2 plays against the winner of the third division champion and third wild card, each in a best-of-five series, just as the division round was in the past.
The Championship Series and World Series remain best-of-seven.
Another consequence – there will be no more chances for a game 163. Tiebreakers are used to determine the playoff teams, if necessary, rather than an additional on-field showdown.
Pitchers hang up their bats
Aside from two-way star Shohei Ohtani, the pitchers won’t be batting anymore as the universal designated hitter has arrived. That should mean fewer automatic strikeouts, victim bunt attempts, or the occasional highlight of a pitcher hitting a National League home run.
Ohtani will have his own rule allowing him to stay in the game as a DH even after he’s folded as a pitcher.
- The “ghost” runner — an automatic runner that starts extra innings on second base — is back, but only for 2022.
- Doubleheaders will return to nine-inning games after showing seven-inning twin bills for the past two years.
- Players can now only be selected a maximum of five times in a season, which should save some young players the constant transition from MLB to Triple-A.
- Also this year only, rosters will be expanded from May 26 to May 28 through May 1 to help teams make up for the shortened spring training session.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/07/mlb-opening-day-new-rules-playoff-format-other-changes/ New rules, playoff format, other changes