MLB Double Header Rules Explained A To Z | Honest Baseball (2024)

MLB doubleheaders are surely exciting. It gives you a unique opportunity to see your favorite team playing two baseball games with one ticket. But are there any specific MLB Double Header Rules that make the game different?

MLB Double Header rules specify that the two teams will play two games, each consisting of nine innings for each team. The games will be played at the same venue on the same day. The roster will consist of 26 players.

If you do not know exactly what a doubleheader is, continue reading this article to find out. You will also get to know more details on the rules in 2023, different types of doubleheaders, and why teams play doubleheaders in baseball.

Table of Contents

What is an MLB double Header?

In most sports leagues, the game is usually canceled when a game is washed out or can not be played due to different circ*mstances. It can be heartbreaking for true sports fans. Sometime it forces a tie in baseball.

But Major League Baseball does not want you to miss the excitement of the game. Hence, MLB follows a doubleheader game system.

An MLB doubleheader refers to two teams playing two games on the same day. It happens in front of the same crowd, one after another.

MLB has been arranging double headers for many decades now. It mainly happens when any game between the teams has been postponed or rescheduled.

MLB Double Header Rules 2023

MLB doubleheader rules 2023 allows 26 players to play in a full nine-inning game in a day.

Double header rules usually refer to playing a full nine-inning baseball game, even if the teams are playing two games within a day. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the doubleheader rules were changed.

In the 2020 season, MLB decided to shorten the innings of double headers to end the game early to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The teams played 7 innings instead of a full 9 innings in doubleheader baseball games.

However, after the end of the pandemic, MLB decided to reinstate the 9-innings doubleheader rules in 2022. In consequence, there will be no 7 innings doubleheaders in 2023. All doubleheader games will be a full 9 innings.

Nine Innings MLB Double Headers

In Major League Baseball, a game consists of nine innings. The same rule applies to the MLB doubleheaders. Each game is played nine innings, even though the teams play two games on the same day.

After finishing the first game, there is usually a 30-minute to 1-hour break. It allows the players to take a rest and prepare for the next game.

Seven Innings MLB Double Headers

Playing two nine innings of baseball takes a long time. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was risky to play long games.

Hence, a shorter double header rule was introduced by MLB. The teams played two games on the same day, each 7-innings instead of 9.

Chicago White Sox defeated Cleveland Indians in both games of the MLB doubleheader on 28 July 2020.

Later, in 2022, the 7-innings MLB doubleheader rule was terminated, and now all the MLB doubleheaders are 9 innings again.

Types of MLB Double Headers

Other than the different number of innings, a doubleheader type can vary based on when the games take place. They can be played only during the day or the night, or both.

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Here are the most common types of MLB double headers:

  1. Conventional: A conventional MLB doubleheader refers to two back-to-back baseball games. The spectator can purchase only one ticket and can watch both games. There is usually a 30-45 minute break between the games.
  2. Day: In a day doubleheader, both baseball games are played in the daylight. The first game usually begins in the early afternoon. Once the first game finishes, the second game starts in the late afternoon.
  3. Twi-night: Twi-night doubleheaders refer to playing the games in the night. The first game starts in the late afternoon or early evening, and the second game in the late evening or at night.
  4. Day-night/Split: Day-night or split doubleheaders are rare in MLB. Here, the first game starts in the early afternoon, and the second one is at night. The spectators need to buy different tickets to watch each game.

How Long are MLB Double Headers?

Currently, MLB double headers are nine innings for each team in both games if the game does not end early. Plus, there is a short break between the games.

There has been some debate over the length of the games. Two back-to-back games can be tiring for players and cause fatigue. It can lead to injuries.

However, there hasn’t been much problem playing double headers with short breaks. Hence, the debate didn’t sustain, and MLB always prefers full nine innings games for doubleheaders.

Related: How Long Does A Baseball Game Last

What is the Minimum Time Between Double Headers?

A 30-minute break is the standard minimum time between doubleheaders in MLB. Usually, the break lasts from 30 to 45 minutes unless there is a longer break required.

However, some leagues keep the break as short as 20 minutes. But at the professional level, 30 minutes is the standard break time before the start of the second game.

Why Do Teams Play Double Headers in MLB?

The main reason for MLB double headers is the bad weather. When a game can not be played due to rain or snow, it is rescheduled to ensure all the games are played.

The postponed games are then played when both teams are facing each other again on the next date. It results in a doubleheader in baseball.

Besides the bad weather, if the game can not be played due to other circ*mstances, such as safety concerns or power outages, then the game is also postponed for a doubleheader.

Double headers give fans a unique experience as they can watch two games of their favorite teams on the same day.

Strategies Teams Follow to Win Double Headers

Playing two baseball games is not easy. That’s why teams try to follow different strategies to ensure they win both games.

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The most common strategy teams follow to win doubleheaders is using two different lineups for different games.

The positions for the games can not be changed after the first game starts. But teams can bring in the 27th man to change the strategy.

Teams also rotate their starting pitchers in double headers to ensure a pitcher performs optimally. They also make in-game adjustments, such as using substitutes to ensure winning the doubleheaders in baseball.


1. How are MLB doubleheaders scheduled?

MLB double headers are usually scheduled back-to-back at the same stadium. Besides, on some rare occasions, the games are scheduled one at the day and the other at night.

2. Can teams make roster changes for doubleheaders?

No. Once the first game starts in the doubleheader, teams are not allowed to change their 16-man rosters.

3. What is the difference between a doubleheader and a split doubleheader?

A doubleheader refers to playing two baseball games on the same day in the same venue. A split doubleheader refers to a type of doubleheader game where one of the two games is played early in the afternoon and the second at night.

4. Are there limitations on pitcher usage in doubleheaders?

Yes. MLB limits the usage of pitchers in double headers to ensure safety. A pitcher can pitch in both games, but the number can not exceed 120 pitches.

My Opinion on MLB Double Headers

MLB double headers are surely one of my favorite things in baseball. Watching two games of my favorite team on the same day is pretty exciting.

However, as a coach, I also care about my players. I don’t oppose the idea of doubleheaders. But my suggestions to team managers would be to better manage their roster during the double headers to keep them safe while winning games.

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MLB Double Header Rules Explained A To Z | Honest Baseball (3)

Jason Butler

Hello everyone. My name is Jason Butler, and I live in California, America. I was a professional AAA Minor League Baseball player.I lost my chance of playing MLB for injury issues, but I did not lose my love for baseball. I attended the coaching training program and am now working as a coach in a small school in San Diego.

I always love to share my experience and knowledge if that can help you. Play baseball, and stay fit.

MLB Double Header Rules Explained A To Z | Honest Baseball (2024)
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