MLB to use the runner-on-second rule for extra innings this year

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Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that Major League Baseball plans to implement a rule for the 2020 season in which extra innings games will feature innings starting with a runner on second base. The idea is to expedite the ending of games which end in a tie after nine innings given that the schedule will be so tight this year and long games will create greater problems this year than they normally would.

The runner-on-second rule has been in place in the minor leagues for the past two seasons. Under the minor league rule the runner at second base will be the player in the batting order position previous to the leadoff batter of the extra inning. So, usually, the guy who made the last out in the previous inning or a pinch runner for that guy. If the placed runner scored, it’s considered an unearned run.

The rule was pioneered in the World Baseball Classic and was tested in the Gulf Coast League and Arizona League before 2018, when all minor leagues adopted it. In 2017 Rob Manfred said he doubted the rule would ever be used in the majors, but I don’t suppose anyone could’ve anticipated what baseball in 2020 would look like.

For what it’s worth, I’ve attended minor league games in which the rule was used. It was . . . fine. If you have somewhere to be or if you need to wake up early the next morning it’s probably preferable to an 18-inning game you can’t stay awake for, but as far as baseball action goes, it’s pretty anticlimactic. It almost always causes the first batter of the inning to bunt the runner over to third and the games usually end pretty quickly. If that’s your bag, great, but it has all of the excitement of an NFL overtime game ending on an opening drive field goal.

White Sox acquire reliever Franklin German in trade with Red Sox

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CHICAGO — The Chicago White Sox acquired reliever Franklin German in a trade with the Boston Red Sox.

The White Sox sent minor league right-hander Theo Denlinger to Boston for German, who made his major league debut in September. Right-hander Jason Bilous was designated for assignment to make room for German on Chicago’s 40-man roster.

The 25-year-old German played for Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester for most of last season, going 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA and seven saves in in 43 relief appearances. The right-hander had no record and an 18.00 ERA in five appearances with the Red Sox.

German, a fourth-round pick in the 2018 amateur draft, was designated for assignment when Boston acquired reliever Richard Bleier in a trade with Miami.

The 26-year-old Denlinger had a 2-2 record and a 4.47 ERA in 40 appearances last season with Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham. He was a seventh-round selection in the 2021 draft out of Bradley University.