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Rob Manfred says 7-inning doubleheaders and the placed runner are probably gone in 2022

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... and the DH is probably coming to the National League.

Al Yellon

Among the most disliked rule changes for 2020 and 2021, two seasons affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, are seven-inning doubleheaders and the placed runner at second base in extra innings. The latter has been dubbed the “Manfred man,” after Commissioner Rob Manfred.

In a news conference in Denver at the All-Star Game, Manfred gave strong hints that both of these rules will not continue past this season:

Seven-inning doubleheaders were created so that players would spend less time around each other during the pandemic, especially in 2020 when a lot of games were postponed due to COVID outbreaks. That’s happened far less often this year.

The Cubs have played one doubleheader this year with two seven-inning games, May 4 against the Dodgers. They swept it. Sunday’s postponement will be made up as part of a doubleheader with two seven-inning games September 24 at Wrigley Field; barring any further postponements, that’ll be the Cubs’ last seven-inning doubleheader.

The “Manfred man” has probably been the most controversial and disliked of all the new pandemic-related rules instituted. It has had the effect of shortening games — no game has gone beyond 13 innings since the start of the 2020 season. But as I have previously written, games longer than 13 innings comprise about 1.5 percent of all games over the long term, about one game per team per year. Messing around with the Manfred man has been, in my view, a solution in search of a problem.

Derrick Goold kind of buried the lede in that tweet:

Asked if the DH in the NL now qualified as “a non-radical change,” he said:

Yes.

This is a strong hint that the universal DH is coming for the 2022 season. Some of you will hate that. Many, myself included, will welcome not having to see pitchers strike out and fail to lay down bunts. Cubs pitchers are currently hitting .120/.158/.128 (16-for-133) with 62 strikeouts; pitchers across MLB are hitting .109/.149/.142 and striking out in 44.4 percent of plate appearances.

I know what the proponents of pitchers batting are going to post in the comments on this topic, so here, let me save you the trouble:

Is that fun? Undeniably, yes. It is also impossibly rare — Bartolo Colon hit .084/.092/.107 (25-for-299) in his career with 166 strikeouts. For me, it’s not worth all the K’s to see one home run in 326 plate appearances.

One other rule change made for these two seasons that I would like to see stick around is the rule allowing games to be suspended at any point and completed later. There’s no reason for teams to play, say, three innings and then have to start over if rain prevents completion of a game. Also, that would obviate ridiculous three-hour rain delays trying to get the game past “official” status at five innings — instead, if it looks like it’s going to rain for several hours, the game just gets suspended and completed later.

Here’s hoping Manfred and MLB retain that simple, yet sensible rule going forward.