Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Monday the new pace of play rules that will be implemented for the 2018 season. The League, MLB Players Association and all 30 teams agree to these newest additions to the whole speed up the game initiative.
“I am pleased that we were able to reach an understanding with the Players Association to take concrete steps to address pace of play with the cooperation of players,” Manfred said in a statement. “My strong preference is to continue to have ongoing dialogue with players on this topic to find mutually acceptable solutions.”
One possible rule change that was being thrown around was a pitch clock. This would have given the pitchers a certain amount of time to deliver the ball, lest they incur and penalty of the batter being awarded a ball. This, along with a time limit between batters, will not be put into effect for this season. The League wants the players to get comfortable with the new rules and to see if they make an impact on pace of play before implementing any new clocks.
“Players were involved in the pace of game discussion from Day 1, and are committed to playing a crisp and exciting brand of baseball for the fans, but they remain concerned about rule changes that could alter the outcome of games and the fabric of the game itself — now or in the future,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said.
Here are the new rules that will be put into effect:
Mound visits will be limited to six per team per nine innings. Teams will receive an additional visit for every extra inning played. Any manager, coach or player visit to the mound will count as a mound visit. Visits to the mound to clean cleats in rainy weather, to check on an injury or potential injury or after the announcement of an offensive substitution are excepted. Also, normal communication between player and pitcher that do not require either to vacate their position on the field do not count as a visit. If a team is out of visits, the umpire will have discretion to grant a visit at the catcher’s request if he believes there has been a cross-up between the pitcher and catcher.
As has been the case since 2016, a timer will count down between innings from 2:05 for breaks in locally televised games, from 2:25 in nationally televised games and from 2:55 for tiebreaker and postseason games. The difference now is that at the 25-second mark, the umpire will signal for the final warmup pitch and the pitcher must throw it before the clock hits 20. The batter will be announced at the 20-second mark and the pitcher must begin his windup to throw the first pitch of the inning as the clock hits zero. Another important change is that a pitcher is no longer guaranteed eight warmup pitches between innings. However, he can take as many as he wants within the countdown parameters noted above. The timer will start on the last out of the inning, unless the pitcher is on base, on deck or at bat, in which case the timer shall begin when the pitcher leaves the dugout for the mound. If the final out of the inning is subject to replay, the timer begins when the umpire signals the out.
Timing of pitcher changes
The timing clock — as listed above — also applies to pitching changes, and it will begin as soon as the relief pitcher crosses the warning track.
All club video review rooms will now receive direct slow-motion camera angles in order to speed up challenges and the resulting review. New phone lines will connect the rooms to the dugout and will be monitored to prevent their use for sign stealing.