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How MLB Rule Changes Will Affect Betting on Baseball in 2020

2020 MLB rule changes
MLB is set to role out a series of rule changes this season that could create an edge for bettors who live bet baseball. Photo by Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism (Flickr).
  • Major League Baseball is set to implement new rules on Opening Day (Thursday, Mar. 26) this season
  • The three-batter minimum rule will have the biggest impact on MLB wagering, specifically live betting
  • Read below to find out how you can gain a betting edge thanks to the new rules

Major League Baseball is going to look much different in 2020 thanks to new rules set to be implemented on Opening Day (Thursday, Mar. 26) to help speed up the game. The changes will not only affect strategies for the teams involved, but also bettors who are looking to get action down before or during the game.

The most significant rule change is the three-batter minimum, which will force both starting and relief pitchers to face at least three batters per outing, unless an inning ends before that or the pitcher is hurt. This new wrinkle will drastically impact live wagering, as bettors will now know much further in advance specific batter vs pitcher matchups. This additional info could provide a serious edge to those who are willing to do their homework.

MLB Live Bets Most Affected By Rule Changes

Type of Live Wager
Win Margin
Over/Under Total Runs
Over/Under Total Hits
Outcome of Next At-Bat
Will There be a Hit on the Next At-Bat
Over/Under Runs in Next Half Inning
Over/Under Hits in Next Half Inning
Over/Under Pitches in Next Half Inning
Over/Under Strikeouts in Next Half Inning

The new rule will also eliminate relief specialists who are typically brought in for only one hitter. Now when a left-handed pitcher is brought in to face an opposing team’s star left-handed batter, he’ll need to stick around to face at least two more hitters.

Knowing that pitcher’s tendencies versus certain types of batters will allow managers to manipulate their rosters in order to create favorable matchups.

How Can Bettors Take Advantage of the Rule Changes?

By studying the performance and tendencies of the pitchers involved in the game you’re wagering on. If a pitcher who struggles with his control is brought in, the odds of him getting into trouble are now increased since he can’t be pulled right away. That can immediately affect next batter wagers as well as moneyline and total bets.

Since we’ll also know specific-batter-versus pitcher matchups further in advance, we can try to identify potentially profitable situations earlier. For example, if we know Mike Trout has a .682 slugging percentage and a 30% hard-hit rate versus right-handed, fastball-dominant pitchers, we can wait for one of those matchups to occur and literally swing for the fences.

Knowing the advance metrics of a handful of hitters against a specific pitcher type can help bettors make smarter wagers.

What Other Rule Changes will Affect MLB Betting in 2020?

At first glance, MLB reverting back to a 15-day injured list for pitchers (from a 10-day list) might not seem like a big deal, but it could impact 2020 MLB win totals. Increasing the amount of time pitchers are forced to spend on the IL will deter teams from manipulating their rosters, a strategy first made famous by the Dodgers in 2017.

The approach was designed maximize the effectiveness of pitchers by mitigating the risk of injury. LA would routinely place starters on the IL for the most minor reasons in a quest to fit seven starting calibre pitchers into a five-man rotation. The game plan was copied by several other teams as 174 more players were sent to the injured list in 2018 compared to 2016 when the IL was still 15 days.

The move to a 15-day IL hurts teams with deep rotations so make sure to take that into consideration before placing your season win total bets.

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