Anyone who watched minor league baseball last season may have seen a clock to the left or right of the scoreboard. It was similar to the one you saw in left field at Comerica Park. Well, that pitching clock, along with several new rules MLB will implement, will start on the first game of Spring Training. Here’s the breakdown of how the new MLB rules will work.
- Pitching Clock: With the bases empty, pitchers will have just 15 seconds to start their motion once the catchers throw the ball back to them. When there are runners on, they will have just 20 seconds.
- Pick offs Attempts: Pitchers can step off the rubber twice to throw to the base or ask the catcher for a new sign.
- Larger Bases: The size of the base has increased from 15-inches square to 18-inches square.
- No More Shift: The defensive team must have a minimum of four players on the infield, with at least two infielders completely on either side of second base per, MLB.com
- Positional Players can only pitch in extra innings or if the team is up 10 or more runs in the 9th inning or a team is trailing by eight runs or more.
I went to many minor league games last season, and the pitch clock rule led to several games lasting two hours or less. However, not all the rules are met with universal praise. The “ghost runner” starting at second during extra innings, was one that just seems strange to fans and players. But on Monday, it was ruled it will be permanent.
Team may change their strategies
While the new rule changes are aimed at fans to enjoy the game more, it could cause issues. Hitters will spend less time in the box. It could throw off their pace at the plate. With a pitcher who can stop a run game to control the pace, they are forced into being super selective. We could see teams steal more bases, like in days past. Teams like the Cardinals in the past thrived on stealing bases to generate offense. Rickey Henderson, besides hitting with power, he was the master of stealing a base.
Could we see a return to Billy Ball, where double steals come back into the lexicon of baseball? We shall see what new strategies will come out of this.