MLB announced the Atlantic League would implement a couple rule changes as experiments this year, with the idea being they could find their way into MLB’s own rule book.
First, for the second half of the season, the pitching rubber will be moved back 1 foot, to 61.5 ft from the plate. The hope is it will give hitters a fraction of a second longer to react and put more balls in play. In 2018, the Atlantic League was going to move the mound back 2 feet, but that experiment was scrubbed before being implemented at all. The last time the mound was moved was in 1893, when it got moved back 5 (!) feet, to its current distance. That year NL batting average went from .245 to .280. One foot certainly won’t be that dramatic, but strike out rates have gone up 15 years in a row.
The other one will be for the entire season, a “double hook” rule. This one states that, whenever the starting pitcher is removed, that team also loses its DH. This one interests me. It’s liable to result in a longer wait for the manager to pull the starter, knowing he’s also losing a viable hitter. A bit more strategy and a bit less “Captain Hook” over managing the pitchers can’t be a bad thing, right? It’s widely expected the new CBA, whenever it gets agreed upon after the season, is liable to make the DH a permanent thing in the NL. …but what if this rule came with it? Might it be an acceptable compromise? Have the DH, protect the starting pitchers, but curtail the “opener” strategy and leaving in bench management due to having only so many potential pinch hitters?
What do y’all think?