Pitchers who are taken from the mound during games can now continue in the designated hitter role, thanks to a rule change for the 2022 season and beyond.
Shohei Ohtani was the storey of the 2021 season, and his influence is now about to be felt in the MLB rulebook!
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association agreed to amendments to the new collective bargaining agreement on Tuesday, including a “Shohei Ohtani rule” with the universal DH now in effect.
If a team keeps its starting pitcher in the lineup as the DH and pulls him during the game, the player can remain in the batting order even after he exits the mound, according to the new regulation.
So, even if Ohtani pitched six innings, he could hit for the final three innings plus extras.
The rule will be in effect for the duration of the recently agreed-upon CBA, which should push teams to invest more in two-way stars like Ohtani.
Under the former system, teams were discouraged from letting a pitcher hit since it would mean losing their DH if they did, which is why Ohtani only has 65 career plate appearances, all of which came last year.
He can now hit as much as the Angels want him to.
In other regulation changes, the players and owners agreed to increase the number of players on the roster from 26 to 28 through May 1 to compensate for the shorter training period this spring.
For the 2022 season only, “ghost” base runners in extra-inning games will be reinstated, however they will be phased out at the end of the season. And it couldn’t come at a better time.
And nine-inning doubleheaders have been reinstated. The owners must vote on the proposed rule changes next week, and the adjustments must be approved by a simple majority of the league’s 30 owners.
The Ohtani rule will undoubtedly have the greatest influence on the Angels this season, given his presence in their lineup and starting rotation.
During a great season in which he sliced, he earned the 2021 American League MVP and Silver Slugger trophies.
257/.372/.592 with 46 home runs, 100 RBI, 26 stolen bases, and an MLB-leading eight triples. He also had a 9-2 record, 3.18 ERA, and 1.09 WHIP while pitching 130.1 innings and striking out 156 batters.
Last year, Ohtani was the biggest star in baseball, even for a team that missed the playoffs in large part due to his ability to thrive in a variety of roles.
Perhaps this regulation change will encourage others to follow in his footsteps, but he has set a high standard.