MLB News: Atlantic League to Test Drive New Mound Distance and DH Rule

What better way to find out if something works than to test in the Atlantic League?

Apr 3, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (17) pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

MLB loves to test drive potential rule changes in the Atlantic League. And while players there may not enjoy them, they’re coming once again in the 2021 season. The league announced today via press release that they would try out a few things there to see how they change the game.

One rule adjustment they are looking into is with the pitching mound. MLB is having the Atlantic League push back their runner 1 foot, so it will sit 61 feet, 6 inches from home plate. This is meant to give batters more time to react, these reducing the number of strikeouts in the game. MLB has been on a mission to have more balls in play for years now.

The MLB mound distance has not been moved since 1893 when NL added 5 feet of distance and a hill to pitch off of. Since then, there have only been adjustments to the hill height. That was mostly in response to the absolute dominance of Bob Gibson in the 1960s.

The league is also testing the “double hook” rule for the DH. That rule change eliminates the designated hitter from a lineup as soon as a starting pitcher is removed from a game. That is meant to cut down on pitching changes and hopefully speed up the game.

The biggest issue with this seems to be with injuries. A team could potentially lose their DH for the entire game if they face an injury, and face the added disadvantage of the opposing team keeping theirs. It’s unclear at the moment if MLB has any plans to utilize this rule in the future, though it had been suggested as a resolution for the 2021 season.

All of that news and more, this week in MLB! Check back weekly with GMS Sports for the most up-to-date information on your favorite sports.

Written by Brook Smith

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