A slew of changes found their way to Major League Baseball last year, including the elimination of the August waiver trade deadline and the reduction of mound visits.
Although the season remains delayed indefinitely because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, new rules will come into effect this year as well. Arguably the most aggressive change is with an amended rule requiring all pitchers to either face a minimum of three batters or reach the end of a half-inning (with exceptions for incapacitating injury or illness).
Active rosters will additionally expand to 26 players during the regular season and postseason, while MLB is completely doing away with 40-man rosters in September. Of course, most anticipate more players being permitted on an active roster for a period of time whenever the 2020 season begins.
Even more tweaks could soon be on the horizon, as MLB is said to be weighing significant changes to the postseason. Seven teams from each league could advance to the playoffs, and a seeding system would allow for some to handpick their opponent during a live TV special.
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts offered a simple solution to the current postseason configuration and opined that the Division Series in each league should be changed to a best-of-seven format, via ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez and Jesse Rogers:
“I think an ideal playoff format, for me, is three seven-game series. I think that the wild-card system, as is, is great. But that first division series should be seven games. I just think that over the course of a seven-game series, it shows the better team. I just think it’s harder to steal a series.”
While Roberts is in favor of the win-or-go-home Wild Card Game, he clearly feels that the Division Series should be expanded to a best-of-seven to better ensure the better team wins.
Since its inception in 1981, the Division Series has always been a best-of-five format. The Dodgers were on the losing end of a heartbreaking Game 5 loss to the Washington Nationals last season — their earliest postseason exit in four years.
The winners in each Division Series then advance to the Championship Series for a best-of-seven format. Ditto for the World Series, which has produced many memorable winner-take-all Game 7’s over the years.
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