The Major League Baseball Commissioner’s Office is continuing to tinker with the pace-of-play rules this offseason, and according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, a formal proposal has been sent to the players.
Sources: Pace-of-play discussions ongoing. Commissioner’s office sent formal proposal for players to consider.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 14, 2018
The proposed tweaks include a pitch timer, which would limit each pitcher to 20 seconds between pitches, and a limit of one mound visit by the catcher per inning.
According to Bleacher Report, only five pitchers with 50 or more innings in 2017 averaged 20 seconds or fewer between pitches. Whats's more, one need to look no further than Brian McCann during the 2017 World Series to see how frequently a catcher visits the mound during high-leverage innings.
The pitch clock and mound visit limit have been tested in Double-A and Triple-A for a few years now, and the games have become noticeably shorter. Most players appear to be against these changes, but the MLB can implement them without the players’ consent, and making the game more palatable to the casual fan appears to be a priority for both the Commissioner and the 30 owners. So much to the chagrin of baseball traditionalists, adjustments to the game are likely coming in 2018.
This may actually affect the Mets more so than other teams. Mickey Callaway and new pitching coach Dave Eiland will be coming into Spring Training with a new philosophy for the pitchers, something that both the staff and the team's catchers will need to rapidly adjust to prior to the season.
If any player has difficulty changing their approach, these newly-proposed rules will limit the time the pitcher and catcher have to get back on the same page mid-inning. The challenge for Callaway and Eiland will be to quickly and effectively communicate this new approach in order to avoid any early-season communication errors.
Even if Commissioner Rob Manfred passes these new rules, he is still working against a game that is rapidly evolving towards becoming longer. As batters become more accepting of walks and strikeouts, the amount of pitches thrown per game increase, and as a result, more pitching changes are necessary, all of which make the game longer than it was in 1960, when you could finish a game in two hours. So is this really solving the problem? And if not, why tinker with what has worked for over a century?
In lieu of the proposed rule changes, Manfred should consider something Darren spoke about back in November, and start games a half hour earlier. Yankees fans seem positive about the team's decision to start Monday-Thursday games in April at 6:30 PM, and it would make baseball’s three hour game length more palatable to both parents with young children and those who set an early alarm clock. Unfortunately, it isn't the route they're going, and I can't say I approve.