What Do The MLB Rule Changes Mean For Baseball Fans And Bettors?

Baseball player Didi Gregorius of the New York Yankees dives for a ground ball off the bat of Bo Bichette of the Toronto Blue Jays

It’s official: the MLB is back for the 2020 baseball season! The 2020 season will adopt major changes that are meant to help speed up the game and comply with COVID-19 safety regulations, and it’s safe to say these changes will affect the teams’ strategies, as well as us as bettors and fans.

What new rules will be implemented?

The American Professional Baseball Organization announced in February that modifications will be made to the 2020 championship season. These changes include:

  • A three-batter minimum rule will force both the starting and relief pitchers to face at least three batters per outing until the batters are put out or reach base, or until the offensive team is put out or the pitcher is hurt. 
  • Active Roster Limits
    • From Opening Day through August, Active Roster limits will be increased from 25 to 26 players. All clubs will be allowed to carry a maximum of 13 pitchers from Opening Day through August 31st, including postseason games.
    • From September 1st until the end of the national championship season, all clubs will be expected to carry 28 players on their Active Roster. Clubs will also be allowed to carry a maximum of 14 pitchers during this period.
  • MLB will make use of a designated hitter.
  • For games that stretch to extra innings, teams will begin with a runner on second base.

How will the new rules affect baseball fans?

Empty Comerica Park baseball stadium during Detroit Tigers practice.

Baseball fans will be wondering whether they will be allowed at stadiums to watch their favorite MLB team in action. Long story short, fans won’t be allowed at stadiums if the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the country.

According to the league’s Operations Manual, “Clubs may permit attendance at games with the approval of the MLB and relevant local authorities.” Fan attendance laws will differ by state and the infection rate of the coronavirus. Dodgers fans will be saddened to know that it isn’t looking likely they’ll be able to head out to Dodger Stadium any time soon. Dodgers President Stan Kasten said, “Obviously, when it is safe for fans to show up, we’d love for that to happen, even if it’s a small number to begin. But I think we’re going away from even thinking about that.” 

Different states have varying timelines and hopes for fan attendance at stadiums. Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that he wants fans to attend sporting events, including baseball, and suggested stadiums be filled at half-capacity. In Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker said that the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox could be permitted to allow up to 8,000 fans at their ballparks.

With the league set to start on July 23rd, we can only wait and see what final decisions will be made regarding stadium attendance. The three-month stalemate between owners and players was due to having to play games in empty stadiums because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, with the 60-game season taking effect, fans and bettors will be concerned about whether some teams will be allowed to fill their stadiums with spectators. This raises concerns about home-field advantage and a financial edge for the clubs who are permitted to have spectators at their ballparks.

What should bettors know before placing a wager?

You’ll have to look at the MLB baseball playoffs with fresh eyes. There are so many new things to consider before placing your wagers at your favorite sportsbook casino. Who would’ve thought factoring in potential virus infections amongst players would influence the way you bet? You should reassess your baseball betting strategy and decide how to tackle standard single-game moneyline wagers and team-based futures. Take another look at the baseball rules for the 60-game season so that you’re up-to-date with the latest changes that could affect your bet.

Shorter season schedule

The shorter season schedule also has the potential to impact player performance. This means that clubs with above-average pitching and deep bullpens will most likely have an even bigger advantage. The 60-game format allows less room for error on the managers’ part, so bettors can expect liberal player turnover and a much more aggressive in-game strategy. Clubs with more money should be in a better position to deliver great on-field performances compared to a standard season, and a 60-game schedule should work in favor of teams with extremely talented players.

The expansion of rosters

With the expanded player pool, you’ll want to set your futures bets based on pitchers’ wins, innings pitched, or strikeout totals. Season-long prop bets will carry less risk overall.

The universal designated hitter

The universal designated hitter rule being implemented for the 2020 MLB season could make a difference between a division crown and wild card spot. One way it will apply to sportsbook casino fans is in the projected run totals for National League games. Totals are likely to be much higher with pitchers out of the batting order, and season-long prop bets on strikeouts and wins for National League pitchers will also be affected. For teams with a modest player pool of offensive talent, they’ll get to see their chances increase with the designated hitter rule. 

The extra inning rule

The extra inning with a runner on second base should reduce the chance of marathon contests — this is intended to shorten the time spent on the field, and limit the risk of COVID-19 infection. Teams with more varied talent will have a much better advantage, and bettors will have to factor in the effect this will have on projected run totals. 

Changes in travel schedule

The new 60-game season will mean the AL East and NL East teams never have to leave their time zones, so factors such as fatigue and adjustment to different altitudes won’t be an issue for players. However, AL and NL West teams will have to travel through three time zones, including West, Mountain, and Central. With fewer games, players should still feel more refreshed compared to the pre-coronavirus season rules. 

Place your bets at BetMGM

As sports fans and bettors get ready to witness the return of Major League Baseball, the anticipation for the new format sure does have us sitting at the edge of our seats. BetMGM offers you the opportunity to do all your online sports betting in one place. How will your baseball betting strategy change for this new 60-game season?