Rob Manfred Says MLB Unlikely to Keep 7-Inning Doubleheaders After 2021 SeasonJuly 13, 2021
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday the league will likely return to traditional nine-inning doubleheaders after the 2021 season.
"I don't think seven-inning doubleheaders are going to be part of our future going forward," he told reporters.
Manfred added the extra-innings rule that automatically placed a runner on second base beginning with the 10th inning would probably be eliminated for 2022 and beyond, as well.
The commissioner explained those two rules fall under the umbrella of ideas created with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, and thus wouldn't likely be necessary beginning next year.
Seven-inning doubleheaders helped provide some relief following a large swath of rescheduled games amid the pandemic, especially during last year's 60-game season when multiple clubs were forced to make up several contests in a short period of time.
Having seven-inning and nine-inning games count the same in the standings was a concern, however, and the rules made it so certain achievements, like no-hitters this year by the Arizona Diamondbacks' Madison Bumgarner and a combined no-no by five Tampa Bay Rays pitchers didn't officially count since they didn't record at least 27 outs.
"I mean, I would have tried," Bumgarner said in April about whether he would've finished off the no-hitter in a normal game. "I don't know. There's too many variables. If it works for seven, it's hard to imagine it not working for two more."
Meanwhile, FanGraphs' Jay Jaffe noted in May putting a runner on second accomplished its purpose, lessening the average length of games and limiting the number of marathon contests (12 or more innings), but teams' performance in those games was having a major impact on their overall record as they won or lost through an "unearned baserunner."
The rule also didn't have the support of fans, with 76.4 percent of respondents in a FanGraphs poll last November saying they were in favor of eliminating it after the 2020 season.
For now, it sounds like most MLB rules will return to their pre-2020 norms beginning in 2022.