Baseball has looked much different during spring training. That’s due to a bunch of new rule changes that have gone into effect, including a limit on shifts and a pitch clock. But with Opening Day on the horizon, could MLB make tweaks to some rules?
It’s possible. Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported that changes could be made before the regular season officially starts. The early returns on these new rules have painted a positive picture for the time of play and pace of play. But they haven’t come without bumps in the road or concerns from players.
The MLBPA has shared those concerns with the Commissioner’s Office, as well. Drellich outlined a handful of them, which are below:
- That the 15-second pitch timer is too constricting with no one on base.
- That hitters should get slightly more time and shouldn’t need to be in the box and “alert to the pitcher” with eight seconds left on the timer.
- Players who are involved in a defensive play to end one half-inning should get extra time if they are leading off the next half-inning.
- Hitters should be allowed more than one timeout per plate appearance.
For anyone hoping for seismic changes, don’t hold your breath. Drellich included the following two quotes from people associated with MLB about what could be coming. If changes do take place, they won’t be drastic:
Said MLB spokesperson Glen Caplin: “If it’s a small tweak that needs to be made, that can be done. I don’t think you’re going to see a large wholesale change of any kind.”
“It sort of depends on exactly what you’re talking about,” MLB’s chief operations and strategy officer, Chris Marinak, said at the time. “You’ve seen in different rule changes that we’ve made in the past that we certainly make I guess what I would call interpretations, or provide guidance (in the) middle of the season, based on how the experience unfolds. So to the extent something is new, and to the extent there are questions about interpretations, or how language is intended to be applied, we have done that in the past. And that may be something that we need to do this go around, depending on what circumstances unfold. Outside of that, I’m not sure that we have any plans to do anything more than something like I described.”
That’s not surprising. MLB put in a lot of work to get a bunch of these rules put into place. This is especially the case with the pitch clock. And since games are finishing about 20-30 minutes faster, there’s no way drastic changes will happen right now.
Mets manager Buck Showalter thinks the pitch clock should go away in the eighth and ninth inning. Former MLB player Trevor Plouffe (who also works for Jomboy Media), recently said he likes the pitch clock for the regular season, but not for the postseason:
Alright people. Here’s my official pitch clock take. YES FOR 162. NO FOR POSTSEASON. 162 in 180 we need to speed up. But big games we need to let breath. It’s not perfect but in my head it makes sense.
— Coach Trev (@trevorplouffe) March 19, 2023
These are all good points. Even if the league still wants a pitch clock in the postseason, a lot can change between now and October. And, we’ll also get to see how these new rules fit into games that actually count.
So, changes could be coming, which is good. There’s a lot of data to look at at the major-league level. But unfortunately, nothing huge will come out of these reported meetings in the next week-plus before Opening Day.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.