There will not be a pitch clock at the Major League level, at least for now. Major League Baseball announced a big league rule change this morning that limits mound visits per nine innings to six. That includes, coaches and players. Each team will be allowed one extra visit per extra inning when games are extended to extra innings. Here is what the official Major League Rulebook will say on this:
I. Mound Visits
a. 2018 Championship Season. Mound visits without a pitching change shall be limited to six (6) per team, per nine innings. For any extra-innings played, each Club shall be entitled to one additional non-pitching change mound visit per inning.
b. OBR 5.10(l). Official Baseball Rule 5.10(l), which governs mound visits by a manager or coach, remains in effect (i.e., a pitcher must be removed on the second visit by a manager/coach in an inning).
(2) Definition of Mound Visit. A manager or coach trip to the mound to meet with the pitcher shall constitute a visit. A player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher, including a pitcher leaving the mound to confer with another player, shall also constitute a mound visit, regardless of where the visit occurs or the length of the visit, except that the following shall not constitute mound visits:
a. Discussions between pitchers and position player(s) that (i) occur between batters in the normal course of play and do not require either the position player(s) or the pitcher to relocate;
b. Visits by position players to the mound to clean spikes in rainy conditions;
c. Visits to the mound due to an injury or potential injury of the pitcher; and
d. Visits to the mound after the announcement of an offensive substitution.
(3) Cross-Up in Signs. In the event a team has exhausted its allotment of mound visits in a game (or extra inning) and the home plate umpire determines that the catcher and pitcher did not have a shared understanding of the location or type of pitch that had been signaled by the catcher (otherwise referred to as a “cross-up”), the home plate umpire may, upon request of the catcher, allow the catcher to make a brief mound visit. Any mound visit resulting from a cross-up prior to a team exhausting its allotted number of visits shall count against a team’s total number of allotted mound visits.
I like it. This rule change will go a long way when it comes to shortening the length of games this season and in the future. Six mound visits per nine innings – player or coach. Gone are the days when a pitcher is struggling, the guy in the bullpen isn’t ready yet, the short stop comes in to talk to the pitcher, then the catcher comes out and talks to the pitcher, then the pitching coach comes out to talk to the pitcher, and then finally the manager comes out and makes the pitching change. This rule will eliminate all of the unnecessary mound visits. Another key part to this rule was for them to include 2.d. Visits to the mound after the announcement of an offensive substitution will not count towards the 6 mound visits. That doesn’t take away the pitching teams ability to adjust to different match ups when opponents announce a pinch hitter.
It will be interesting to watch teams adjust to this rule early in the season because 6 visits is 6 visits. I would be willing to bet that managers will tell catchers and position players not to go out to the mound early in the season until they get a handle on the mound visits themselves. If you think about it, you could realistically run through 6 visits with just three pitchers. In this day and age, when teams are building bullpens with the strategy of getting to the pen in the 6th or 7th, 6 visits could go by pretty quickly.
I like the rule change and I think it’s a better idea to make this change to see the results before instituting a pitch clock which would alter the actual in game play of pitchers i.e. rushing to get a pitch off before the clock strikes zero and serving up a fastball right down the dick or balking due to the rush. The only bad thing I can say about the rule change is that fans who drink more than a 6 pack when they watch a ball game could be in trouble – mound visits are a great time to grab another beer.
I’d like to hear what you guys think about the rule change so tweet me @Kofsports or snap chat me @Kofsports to let me know what you think. Either way, at least we are one day closer to Opening Day.