Baseball Regulation Game Rules

Baseball Regulation Game Rules

Unfortunately, poor weather sometimes prevents teams from playing a full nine innings of baseball. In the MLB, there are rules about when games count as full games versus when they should be postponed and resumed at a later date. The Baseball Regulation Game rules were recently changed in 2020 as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read on to learn the new MLB rules for regulation games.


In the past, if an MLB game was called off due to inclement weather, the game was rescheduled and completely restarted at a later date. This was true regardless of how far along in the game it was. However, during COVID-19, MLB officials found it necessary to begin picking these postponed games up where they left off rather than starting them over from scratch. 

In 2020, the regulation game rules were amended to state that games in which the home team had made 15 outs would be considered a full game. Additionally, games in which the visitors had made 15 outs and the home team led in runs would now be considered a full game. 

In other words, as long as the home team is in the lead, an MLB game now counts as regulation as long as five defensive innings have been completed by the visitors. If the home team is not in the lead, they too must be provided 15 outs before the game is considered regulation. Games that do not meet this requirement, are still rescheduled, but they are now resumed rather than started over.


  • A thunderstorm occurs during the 7th inning and the score is 4-1. When the umpires call this game quits, it counts as a full regulation game because both teams already received their chance to complete 15 outs.
  • The game is in the top of the 5th inning. The Yankees are playing the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park. A thunderstorm rolls in when the score is 4-1 with the Yankees leading. If the umpires decide at this point it is unsafe to continue playing, the game will not count as a full regulation game because the home team (Red Sox) are behind and have not completed 15 outs. The Red Sox will either be allowed to finish their at-bats for the inning, or if it is too unsafe to continue, the game will be resumed later on.
  • The game is in the 3rd inning and neither the visiting team nor the home team have yet scored 15 outs. This game will not count as regulation and will be resumed at a later date.


As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MLB announced that they planned to continue the season set to begin on March 26th but that only necessary personnel would be allowed in clubhouses. Only a few days later, though, on March 12th, the MLB announced the start of the season would be pushed back by two weeks. Again, only a few days later, on March 16th the season had now been postponed until May. 

This pattern continued for a while, but the MLB season did eventually begin. However, the MLB had to settle for an abridged season, only featuring 60 games and did not kick off until July 23rd. With such a short season, barely any wiggle room was available for games impeded by weather to begin again at a later date. This created a need for the MLB to come up with a revised regulation game policy so that the league could fit in as many complete games as possible. This is when the new rules were instituted and the MLB has made no moves to reverse these changes.

Similar Rules to Regulation Game Rules

  • Suspended, Postponed, and Tied Games
  • Forfeited Games
  • Protested Games


What is a regulation game in baseball?

A regulation game of baseball is a complete game of Major League Baseball. A regulation game consists of nine innings under normal circumstances. However, if weather is unpermitting, a regulation game may be called when the home team is ahead and the visiting team completes 15 outs. Or, a regulation game may be called after both teams have completed 15 outs, regardless of which team is winning.