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Is There a Mercy Rule in MLB?

mercy rule in mlb

No, there is no mercy rule in MLB. There are circumstances, though, under which umpires may suspend a game before it reaches the standard conclusion after nine (or more) full innings.

We’ll look at some of those in a minute, but first things first …

What Is the Mercy Rule?

In some leagues — most Little League implementations, for example — a mercy rule exists to help limit the length of games when on team or another has trouble recording outs.

Generally, the rule gives umpires the latitude to cancel a game when one team builds a 10- or 15-run lead after a certain number of innings (three, for example).

There is no such rule in Major League Baseball, but there are other rules in place that allow an umpire to call a game under certain circumstances.

When Can Umpires Suspend a Game?

A game can end early — and still be official — on account of inclement weather, provided that at least five innings have been completed and one team is ahead. (The game can end after four-and-a-half innings if the home team is ahead.)

A game can also be ended early if one team forfeits.

A game can be suspended, to be resumed later, for the following reasons:

  • Local curfew
  • Time limit imposed by the league (not usually a consideration in MLB)
  • Darkness, with lack of available electric lighting, or when local laws prohibit turning on those lights
  • Inclement weather, before the game becomes official
  • Lateness, fatigue, etc., when a regulation game has remained tied far past nine innings; some league and umpire discretion involved here

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