Major League Baseball has announced its latest pace of play initiatives, with several rule changes taking effect for the 2018 season.
Leading up to spring training, there was considerable discussion over what measures MLB could implement to speed up the average game time. Some of the more notable proposals that were reportedly discussed–including a pitch clock and between-batter timer–will not be put to use during the coming season. However, MLB is moving forward with several measures for 2018, including a limit on the number of mound visits by each team and measures intended to decrease the times for inning breaks and pitching changes.
Under the new rules, teams will be limited to six mound visits per nine innings. Should the game go into extra innings, one additional non-pitching-change mound visit will be added per inning. Additional information on the other rule changes can be found here.
After receiving substantial input from the Major League Baseball Players Association and Club personnel, MLB’s Competition and Playing Rules Committees recommended that Commissioner Rob Manfred proceed with a rule change limiting the number of mound visits in a game and a rule designed to reduce the time required for inning breaks and pitching changes. The Commissioner has decided to defer the implementation of a pitch timer and a between-batter timer in 2018 in order to provide players with an opportunity to speed up the game without the use of those timers.
“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. “My strong preference is to continue to have ongoing dialogue with players on this topic to find mutually acceptable solutions.”
The Commissioner’s Office also is taking steps to expedite the replay review process and to deter sign-stealing through the use of electronic equipment. MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to meet during the 2018 championship season to continue to discuss pace of play.