MLB Rumors: Pitch Timer May Be Reduced With Runners On Base

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The start of the 2023 regular season saw notable MLB rule changes, with the implementation of a pitch timer easily the most impactful.

Restrictions were also put on defensive shifts and sizes of bases were made bigger, which helped fuel more offense throughout the sport. But with pace of play having long been a pain-point for MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, the pitch clock succeeded in reducing the time of game to under three hours on average.

But rather than rest on that achievement, MLB reportedly has interest in reducing the pitch timer for the 2024 season from 20 seconds to 18 when at least one runner is on base, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan:

Major League Baseball’s competition committee is weighing a proposal that would reduce the pitch clock with runners on base from 20 seconds to 18 next season, aiming to reverse a late-season trend that saw the average time of game increase by seven minutes, sources told ESPN.

MLB’s competition committee, which includes six members representing teams, four players and one umpire, heard the proposal to shave the clock as well as cut down mound visits from five per game to four, sources said.

Although the average time for a nine-inning game in 2023 was 2 hours and 40 minutes, it steadily rose throughout the course of the season.

Manfred has historically worked with the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) when looking to implement rule changes, but the league has the authority to unilaterally do so as long as the union was provided with 45 days of notice.

If the pitch clock time is reduced in 2024, pitchers are still expected to be limited to only two disengagements from the mound with a runner on and batters will still have one timeout per plate appearance.

Up to this point, the only adjustment with the pitch clock since it was implemented was handlers were assigned to each postseason series rather than only remaining in a designated ballpark.

Dave Roberts enjoyed MLB pitch clock

When the new MLB timer was still in its infancy, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts quickly threw his support behind the change because of what it meant for fans.

It’s great,” Roberts said in April. “I think for all of us, we’re all going to be looking forward to some more baseball. It’s just not that much of a grind, so applause and kudos to Major League Baseball and Players Association. They got this one right.

“The great thing about baseball is the time in between plays and the reset, but that’s also can be detrimental as far as viewership. So now when it’s kind of more, the pace of play is better, certainly players have to be more engaged because it’s happening kind of in real time, really quickly.”

MLB saw their biggest year-over-year increase in attendance since 1993 and the 2023 season was the most streamed year on MLB.TV in history, up 9% from 2022 with 12.7 billion minutes watched.

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