Major League Baseball unveiled its pace-of-play initiatives for the 2018 campaign on Monday, announcing a slew of new rules that will notably limit teams to six mound visits without a pitching change per game.
In announcing the new rule changes, the league also confirmed that a pitch clock will be not be implemented this year.
"I am pleased that we were able to reach an understanding with the Players Association to take concrete steps to address pace of play with the cooperation of players," commissioner Rob Manfred said in the official release. "My strong preference is to continue to have ongoing dialogue with players on this topic to find mutually acceptable solutions."
Under the new rules, any trip to the mound by a manager or coach will count toward a team's six visits, along with any instance of a player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher. However, if a team uses up its six visits and the home-plate umpire determines that the catcher and pitcher got their signals crossed up, he can grant the catcher another trip to the mound. Additionally, a player can head to the mound to clean off his spikes in rainy conditions without it counting as an official visit, and any trip to the mound following an offensive substation or because of injury won't count as an official visit, either. In games requiring extra innings, teams will receive one additional visit per frame.
In an effort to expedite the replay review process, meanwhile, all teams will have to install the capability for their video-review rooms to receive direct slow motion camera angles, as well as new phone lines to connect the video-review room to the dugout (this communication will be monitored to avoid sign-stealing).
Moreover, the between-innings clock will count down from two minutes, five seconds in 2018, and the umpire is to signal the pitcher to toss his final warmup pitch with 25 seconds left on the clock.
|Time remaining||Required action|
|25 seconds||Umpire signals pitcher to complete last warmup pitch|
|20 seconds||Batter is announced and must leave on-deck circle|
|0 seconds||Pitcher must begin motion to deliver first pitch|
Last year, despite efforts to speed up games, an average regular-season contest rose to three hours, five minutes, and 11 seconds - a jump of nearly four-and-a-half minutes per game from 2016.