Major League Baseball will have its opening day on April 7, which is just over a week later than originally scheduled, due to a prolonged labor negotiation that scrambled much of the offseason.
Despite the delay, MLB will still play a full 162-game season, using doubleheaders to make up for the lost time. There will also be concessions made for the fact that players’ offseason preparation may have been impacted by the owners’ lockout.
We’ve already looked at how two MLB rules changes for 2022—the universal DH and expanded playoffs—could impact MLB futures prop betting for teams and individual players. Now we look at other rules changes and the tweaks to the schedule
Let’s Play Two
Doubleheaders always seem to put pressure on a team’s roster depth. Two games in one day will tax a team’s pitching staff.
The increased workload will be twofold this year. In addition to playing more doubleheaders, MLB is going back to playing full nine-inning games in doubleheaders, after a two-year experiment with seven-inning games.
With 18 innings to cover, look for the teams with the deepest bullpens—think Atlanta—to have the easiest time handling the increased number of doubleheaders.
Catchers also rarely play both ends of a twin bill, so expect more days off for guys like Salvador Perez, JT Realmuto and Will Smith.
While MLB got rid of one of its controversial COVID rules—seven-inning doubleheaders—it decided to keep the other one. After initially saying that extra innings would be played in the traditional manner, the owners and players decided to keep the placed-runner rule for extra innings.
Some people call it a ghost runner. Others call it a zombie, but each extra inning will start with a guy on second base. The idea is to increase the likelihood of scoring and reduce the number of extra innings that are played.
The rule may not be popular with traditionalists, but it works as intended. Marathon 18 or 19 inning games are a thing of the past, which allows pitching staffs to get some rest and also helps hitters avoid the shame of an 0-for-8 day.
Working Back Into Shape
Players weren’t able to use team facilities during the offseason workout, and for several months, it was unclear when the season would start—if, in fact, it was played at all.
That made it tough for players to plan their offseason workouts with an end date in mind. There was no point in pitchers being ready to throw 100 pitches by April 1 if the season wasn’t going to start until June.
To avoid injuries by asking players to be ready for a midseason workload right out of the gate, MLB has loosened roster rules. Rosters are expanded by two players —from 26 to 28— until May 1. Like the increased number of doubleheaders, we can expect to see more days off than usual for players early in the season.
New rules restricting how often pitchers can be sent to the minor leagues and returned to the MLB roster —a clever shuffle that allowed teams to essentially expand their bullpens during the season— also won’t take effect until May 1.
There will also be a new rule limiting the number of pitchers on the active roster to 13, but that won’t take effect until May 1 either. Once the new rules on pitchers take effect, it will reduce the parade of relievers that we see at the end of most games. That means more work for the better relievers.