The 2023 Major League Baseball season will be unique in a few ways with some new rules coming to the majors for the first time. Such as the use of the pitch clock.
Will Orioles pitchers have any issues adjusting to the clock? We can’t know this answer yet, obviously, but I am going to guess any issues will be minimal.
Under the new rules, pitchers will have 15 seconds to pitch with no one on base and 20 seconds with a runner or runners on. The timer starts when the pitcher catches the return throw from the catcher, and to beat the clock the pitcher must start his motion before the clock runs out. The ball doesn't need to touch the plate before the clock expires, but the pitcher's motion must have started. Pitchers can step off the rubber and reset the clock, but this year can do that just twice per plate appearance.
MLB is trying, it seems, both to improve pace of play and improve time of game. In the minor league games using the clock last season, the average time of game was about 26 minutes shorter. Major league games moved past the three-hour mark on average in 2014. In 2021 big league games took an average of three hours, 10 minutes. The average last year was three hours and four minutes.
On Statcast they actually have a “pitch tempo” leaderboard. It tracks the amount of time from one pitch to the next for hurlers. Among the Orioles, when no one was on base, lefty Keegan Akin was the fastest worker with an average of 14.4 seconds between delivering pitches.
These Orioles pitchers were the slowest workers with no one on base:
22.5 seconds: Cionel Pérez
20.8: Austin Voth
20.2: Félix Bautista
19.9: Joey Krehbiel
19.7: Bryan Baker
Here were the slowest workers with runners on base:
25.2 seconds: Kyle Bradish
24.7: Tyler Wells
24.1: Bruce Zimmermann and Voth
Akin was also fastest with runners on at 20.1 seconds. The league average was 18.1 with no one on base and 23.3 seconds with runners on.
While some of these times are over the 20-second limit with runners on base, we should point out (and this could confuse us even more) that pitch tempo is time between pitches. However, the pitch clock will time from catching the ball back from the catcher to beginning delivery for the next pitch. Estimates are there are six seconds' difference between pitch tempo and the pitch timer/clock.
Yep, I’m confused also.
Bottom line is if you subtract six seconds from the times I provided most all of these pitchers would have been within the rules that are coming this year. The pitchers surely should be able to adapt, and probably easily.
There is a sense that some relievers actually may have the bigger adjustments here. They are used to coming into games and taking a lot of time between pitches - both to strategize and to max out their effort on the pitches, as some relievers do. They take time to catch their breath, think through the situation, gather themselves and then explode toward the plate. It could be an issue for some.
My guess, having seen the clock in the minors, is that fans seeing it live in a ballpark for the first time will notice the clock and check it often early in a game. Then they won't notice it much.
I see the clock being good for pace of game and time of game. The players will adapt. The media and fans may be very aware of the clock at the outset of spring training and the regular season, and then they won't notice it much at all.