Designated Runner For Extra Innings & Expanded Rosters Among MLB Rule Changes For 2022 Season

Major League Baseball and the Players Association (MLBPA) jointly announced the rule changes that will be in place for the 2022 season, including the amended designated hitter, which is also commonly referred to as the ‘Shohei Ohtani rule.’

The universal DH was already agreed to, but the new rule allows for a team’s starting pitcher to also play as the DH and count as two separate players. This allows two-way players to hit for themselves when they are pitching, but also remain in the game to bat after they are no longer pitching.

Previously, if a pitcher was hitting as the team’s designated hitter, they would need to move him to a different position on the field to keep the bat in the lineup after he was done pitching. That in turn cost the team their DH spot.

The rule also states if the DH is replaced, he can continue as the pitcher but can no longer hit for himself. If the player is simultaneously replaced both as a starting pitcher and DH, he cannot be replaced by another two-way player filling both roles as separate people as this can be done only once on the initial lineup card by identifying that the starting pitcher will bat for himself.

“The expansion of the designated hitter and giving two-way players enhanced flexibility to showcase their talents will benefit the game for the foreseeable future,” MLBPA director of player services Kevin Slowey said.

Automatic runner

The ghost runner will also return in 2022 with each extra inning beginning with a runner on second base, continuing what was in place for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. MLB and the MLBPA say this is an effort to preserve player health and safety during the condensed schedule.

The rule remains the same with no changes from last season, which says the player who made the final out of the previous inning will go to second base for the next extra inning.

However, if the player in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning’s leadoff hitter is the pitcher, the runner placed on second base at the start of that half-inning may be the player preceding the pitcher in the batting order.

Any runner or batter removed from the game for a substitute shall be ineligible to return to the game, as is the case in all circumstances.

For purposes of calculating earned runs, the runner who begins an inning on second base pursuant to this rule will be considered a runner who reached second base because of a fielding error, but no error shall be charged to the opposing team or to any player.

Expanded rosters to start 2022

Multiple roster rules are also changing for the 2022 season. For April, expanded rosters will be in place, bringing active roster totals from 26 to 28 players, or 29 in the case of a doubleheader.

The limitation of 13 pitchers on the active roster and the restriction on position players appearing as pitchers during a game not apply from April 7 through May 1. In addition, if teams option a player before May 2, it would not count toward the previous agreement of a maximum of five Minor League options during the season.

Pitchers and two-way players are eligible for placement on the 10-day injured list prior to May 2, but after that those players will only be eligible for placement on the 15-day IL. The required number of days a pitcher or two-way player must remain on option or outright assignment prior to a subsequent recall or re-selection will be 10 days for any option or outright that occurs prior to May 2.

“As part of our discussions with the MLBPA regarding the condensed 162-game schedule, we have agreed to extend the extra-innings rule to the 2022 Championship Season and temporarily expand rosters,” MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations Morgan Sword said.

“We are excited to see the universal designated hitter in action this season with amended rules that will promote the use of two-way players going forward.”

Rookie qualifications remain unchanged from 2021

Additionally, rookie qualifications moving forward will remain the same as the 2021 season.

The 2021 season was the first full year without significantly expanded September rosters that allowed up to 40 active players, the determination of rookie status no longer excluded September days toward the threshold of 45 days.

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