(CBS) MLB is set to test a rule change in the lowest levels of the minor leagues this year that would automatically place a runner on second base to start extra innings, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported Wednesday afternoon.
The goal is to gather more information on the consequences and effects of doing so, and many high-ranking MLB officials support the idea, Passan reported. Among those is chief baseball officer Joe Torre.
“Let’s see what it looks like,” Torre told Yahoo Sports. “It’s not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing a utility infielder in to pitch. As much as it’s nice to talk about being at an 18-inning game, it takes time.”
Starting extra innings with a runner at second is the norm in international baseball, and it will be in effect at the World Baseball Classic in March.
Reducing the length of games and pace-of-play issues have been a focus of commissioner Rob Manfred since he took office in January 2015. Even if the rule change was well-received and implemented in the minor leagues, it would likely take years to employ in MLB, in part because it would need the players’ approval, Passan reported.
In addition to increasing the action for fans, a benefit of such a rule would is that it would reduce strain in the form of delayed travel and in-game workload, specifically on pitchers. The effects on in-game strategy would obviously be wide-ranging, which is why MLB wants to closely monitor what happens in the minor leagues.
In early November, the Cubs broke a 108-year championship drought by beating the Indians, 8-7, in 10 innings in Game 7 of the World Series.