Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that it will experiment with a pair of new rules during the 2021 Atlantic League season: a “double-hook” implementation of the designated hitter and moving the pitching rubber back one foot. MLB and the Atlantic League began a partnership back in 2019 wherein the latter would serve as a testing ground for rule changes and pace-of-play alterations.
The “double-hook” designated hitter rule will be in place for the entirety of the 2021 Atlantic League season. Under the new rule, a team will lose its designated hitter once the starting pitcher is pulled from the game. From that point forth, the team will need to either deploy a pinch-hitter or allow a relief pitcher to bat in what was the designated hitter’s place.
The goal of the rule, per the league, is to “incentivize teams to leave their starting pitchers in longer, increase the value of starters who can work deeper into games and increase the strategic element in the late innings of a game.”
Turning to the pitching rubber experiment, that change will only be implemented in the second half of the Atlantic League season.