For health and safety purposes, MLB and the players union agreed to a number of rule changes in 2020. One of those changes came in the form of an extra-innings rule in which the hitting team began with a runner on second base from the 10th inning onward in a nine-inning game. In a seven-inning game, the rule came in to play in the eighth.
The rule was put in place to shorten games, lighten pitcher workloads and prevent injuries. It was met with harsh criticism before its implementation but in practice, many around the game thought the rule worked well and Joe Girardi was one of them.
“I think it keeps the fans engaged more,” Girardi told reporters on Monday via Zoom. “It’s hard to say because they weren’t in the stands but from a TV standpoint I would think ‘Well I’m going to stay up this little extra time to watch this because there’s a good chance this is going to end fairly quickly.'”
Girardi also mentioned that he liked the seven-inning doubleheaders as well as the universal DH. He also reiterated that he’s not in favor of three-batter minimum because it’s “difficult to navigate through and changes the strategy of the game a lot.”
It’s unclear whether any of the new rules implemented in 2020 will return next season. All of the new rules besides the three-batter minimum have to be collectively bargained in order for them to return in 2021.
The three-batter minimum could be a one and done because it was meant to shorten the time of games. In 2020, the average length of a nine-inning game was actually at an all-time high at three hours and seven minutes, according to Baseball-Reference. Some of that can be attributed to the expanded rosters and greater availability of bullpen arms but nonetheless, very few people around baseball seemed to like it.
Back in October, Commissioner Rob Manfred told MLB insider Jon Heyman that the extra-innings rule has “the best chance of surviving” past 2020 when compared to the universal DH and seven-inning doubleheaders.
“More people came to realize that the rule adds a layer of strategy and a focus at the end of the game that could be helpful to us over the long haul,” Mandred said on the Big Time Baseball podcast.
Girardi agrees but it took him some time to come around on it.
“I was probably a little bit leery about the strategy of the extra innings but it kind of ironed itself out,” Girardi said. “I actually like it. I think it’s a good rule because I think too many times you have to make too many changes on your roster because you get in a really long game. And that upsets your roster for the next 10 days because you can’t make another move concerning a player unless somebody gets hurt for 10 days. So I’m really in favor of that one.”
The Phillies were 3-2 in five extra-innings games in 2020.
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