Major League Baseball announced that, for the remainder of the 2020 season, all doubleheaders will consist of two seven-inning games, approved by major league players and owners on Friday.
Seven-inning doubleheaders have been a staple in the minors for years, and now make their way to the majors, beginning on Saturday, Aug. 1.
There were no scheduled doubleheaders this season, but with 60 games in 66 (and for four teams that started on July 23, 67) days, there are limited opportunities to make up games that are postponed.
“Given the frequency of doubleheaders, the effects of doubleheaders on rosters, and the need to reschedule games due to dynamic circumstances, both the clubs and the players have determined that this step promotes player health and safety,” said a statement released by MLB.
Just this week, eight teams have had games postponed from positive coronavirus tests, either from their team or a team they played. The Marlins have had a reported 18 players and two staff members test positive, and haven’t played all week, with their next scheduled game next Tuesday, for now. The Phillies, who played the Marlins on Sunday, had their games postponed this week through Sunday. These postponements affected games against the Orioles, Yankees, Nationals, and Blue Jays.
Friday’s game between the Cardinals and Brewers was postponed after two positive tests of St. Louis players. That game is scheduled to be made up with a Sunday doubleheader, which will now consist of two seven-inning games, the first under the new rules.
Shortened games in these doubleheaders will affect how teams manage their pitching staff.
“You’d need the sixth inning, the fifth inning played differently based on when the game’s supposed to conclude. You just accelerate what you’re doing, just like we’re doing with the season,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday about the then-proposed doubleheader idea. “I get it from the perspective of expediency if it’s necessary. But right now, the way we’re moving along, if we could keep this thing rolling, if there’s a doubleheader necessary, I think it’s okay.”
Maddon said he’s support the shortened doubleheaders in this shortened season, but in a normal, full year he’d probably be against the idea.
“I’m in for anything right now,” he said. “I’m not going to speak speak badly of any kind of suggestion right now that people believe it’s going to help us get through the season, get to the playoffs and conclude them.”