The 2023 MLB season is finally here with a lot of important changes for teams and baseball fans. The Houston Astros are the defending champions in a year which promises to bring a lot of emotions after an spectacular prelude such as the World Baseball Classic.
Those incredible ratings for the international competition represent a huge opportunity for MLB. With so many sports and entertainment available for younger fans, baseball has to adapt itself to a modern era. It's the perfect time to take advantage of that boost.
So, considering this scenario, the office of Major League Baseball is trying to bring new generations to the sport. That's why, in order to make the game more agile for the fans, huge changes in the rules will take place in the 2023 MLB season. Undoubtedly, the most intriguing one is the pitch clock.
What is the pitch clock in MLB?
MLB had to find a way for baseball to have a faster pace. Though the sport is exciting for thousands of fans, one of the biggest arguments against it from new generations is the average time in a season of 162 games.
That's why, a few months ago, MLB announced the pitch clock as part of a set of three new rules to be implemented in 2023. So, to make the games quicker, now there's a 30-second timer between batters. Also, between each pitch, a 15-second timer will be in place with the bases empty and a 20-second timer with runners on base.
What happens if the pitch clock runs out?
According to the new MLB rules, the pitcher always has to start his motion to throw pitches before the clock expires. It's important to remember that it's the motion and not the throw itself (when the ball leaves the hand).
If the pitch clock runs out, the umpire will confirm and automatic ball. In case the batter breaks the rule, the automatic call will be strike. For the batters, MLB stipulates they must be in the box by the 8-second mark on the clock.They have to be in a position ready to face the pitcher. No distractions or a strike will be called.
What happens with the pitch clock with runners on base?
There are many situations to consider. For example, when there are runners on base, the pitch clock resets if the pitcher attempts a pickoff or leaves the rubber (step off). MLB is very clear by stating that "pitchers are limited to two disengagements (pickoff attempts or step-offs) per plate appearance". However, this limit is reset if a runner or runners advance during the plate appearance.
In case of a third pickoff attempt by the pitcher, the runner automatically will advance one base if the pickoff attempt is not successful. This is a major change in the history of baseball. Also, MLB has clarified that mound visits, injury timeouts and offensive team timeouts do not count as a disengagement by the pitcher.
Are there special situations to stop the pitch clock?
Yes. For example, there's a scenario in which the catcher might be the last player to bat in an inning. So, for the next one, he might delay the restart when putting on his gear. In this case, the umpire might stop the pitch clock. This could also apply to many situations like injuries or something happening at the stadium.