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What is the pitch clock? Going over MLB’s attempt to speed up games

There are plenty of rule changes happening in baseball for 2023. We’re going over perhaps the most polarizing one.

Trevor Larnach #9 of the Minnesota Twins looks on in front of the pitch clock during a spring training game against the Atlanta Braves on March 25, 2023 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Major League Baseball is entering a new era in the 2023 season. While we have seen the steroid era and the dead ball era, this one is appropriately called the pitch clock era. In an effort to speed up games, a pitch clock is going to be instituted for the regular season. So far in trials in the minor leagues as well as this year’s spring training, game times are down nearly 30 minutes.

So what is the pitch clock?

If no runners are on base, the pitcher has 15 seconds from receiving the ball from the catcher or umpire to begin his motion or windup. If there are runners on, this is increased to 20 seconds. The batter is responsible for being in the batter’s box and ready to hit with at least eight seconds left.

What are the consequences?

If the pitcher isn’t ready or doesn’t start their motion in time, an automatic ball is assessed. If it is the fault of the batter, it is an automatic strike. We saw this come into play early in spring training. In the bottom of the ninth, with the bases loaded in a tie game, a Braves player was deemed not ready in time and was assessed a strike in a 3-2 count ending the inning.

Any other changes with pitching?

Pitchers are only allowed to step off the rubber twice per batter. It can be a pick-off or just a step-off to reset with their catcher, but only two are allowed. A violation of this will result in a balk for the pitcher. Batters are allowed to only call one timeout per plate appearance.