The MLB regular season will get underway on Thursday, March 30. This season is guaranteed to be a historic one as the league is changing up some pretty significant rules. Former starting pitcher turned analysts Dallas Braden joins the GoJo podcast with Mike Golic Jr. to discuss the changes, spring training, and the upcoming season.
While changes are usually tested in the minor leagues, players that have been in the majors for a while could experience almost a completely different game in 2023. Yes, universal DH and the extra inning rules are holdovers, but this season will see drastic changes to the size of the bases and shift rules while also implementing a pitch clock. All of these changes have been implemented
There is now a 30-second timer between batters along with the new pitch clock. Once a pitcher receives the ball from the umpire or catcher, they must begin their motion within 15 seconds with no runners on or within 20 if there is a base occupied. Failure to do so results in an automatic ball. Batters must be in the box and ready to hit, a.k.a. eye contact with the pitcher, with at least eight seconds left or they will be assessed an automatic strike. An additional rule for the pitcher is that they are now allowed to only pickoff twice during a plate appearance, and if they do a third time and don't get the runner, it is considered a balk and all runners advance. Batters can also only call time once a plate appearance.
Braden comments mainly on the pitcher’s need to have a game plan for what you want to do out on the mound. Young guys should be able to adjust to the pace, but some veterans set in their ways could struggle with the uptick in tempo initially. While the pace seems quicker now, Braden also remarks that pitchers already shouldn't be taking 25-30 seconds between pitches and he expects them to still develop a rhythm. The interesting conversation comes when Braden and Golic discuss if these changes, including the anticipated 20-25 minute shortening of the average game, are even good for the sport of baseball.
Braden spent five seasons with the Oakland Athletics from 2007 to 2011. Injuries derailed his career, but he famously pitched a perfect game on May 9, 2010 which was Mother’s Day that year. His takes on the new rules as a former pitcher are particularly interesting as the pacing of the game is expected to drastically change with several of the changes directly affecting pitchers and how they approach the game.