Major League Baseball will implement new pace-of-game rules—including a pitch clock—even if the players don’t approve.
While talks about pace-of-game rules between Major League Baseball and the players association have stalled, it looks like MLB will implement new pace-of-game rules for the 2018 season.
The new rules include a 20-second pitch clock and a restriction on catcher visits to the mound. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the players union is expected to reject MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s proposal for pace of play rules. Manfred had wanted an agreement with the players before implementing the rules.
“My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players,” Manfred said during the owners meetings in Florida in November, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. “But if we can’t get an agreement, we are going to have rule changes in 2018, one way or the other.”
A source told Crasnick that “while players agree that pace of game is a topic to be addressed, they’ve contended that games can be shortened through revisions in instant replay, stricter monitoring of the downtime between innings and other remedies that don’t require a clock”
While this would be the first time a pitch clock was used in the big leagues, it’s not the first time it’s been used in professional baseball. The upper levels of the minor leagues (Double-A and Triple-A) implemented a pitch clock in 2015. The clock that MLB is proposing would allow for 20 seconds between pitches, which is two seconds less than the average of 22 seconds between pitches last year.
If a pitcher commits a clock violation, then a ball will be added to the count. If the batter violated the clock rule, then a strike will be added to the count.
The 2018 season won’t be the first time that MLB has tried to shorten the game. In 2015 they introduced a rule that required batters to keep one foot in the batter’s box. The rule reduced the average game time by six minutes. However, in 2016, games were three hours long on average, while last year game times averaged just over three hours.
Any rule changes require the approval of MLB owners. The owners are scheduled to hold their quarterly meetings on February 1 in Los Angeles.