In an effort to improve the time of games, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has prioritized pace-of-play initiatives since assuming office in 2015. That season, games averaged 2 hours and 56 minutes — which was down six minutes from the year prior.
Manfred has since eliminated the intentional walk, in which pitchers had to deliver four balls to the plate. He has also limited replay officials in New York to two minutes in which they must review challenged plays.
Despite recent attempts to speed up games, Manfred’s goal has not yet been achieved. The average time of games has gradually increased over the previous two seasons, to an even three hours in 2016 and three hours and five minutes in 2017.
Manfred is once again focusing his attention on pace-of-play and hopes to implement a pitch clock of 20 seconds for the 2018 season, per Buster Olney of ESPN:
“But the foundation of the changes to come in 2018 will be in the implementation of a pitch clock, sources say, and MLB is intent on using the same limit used in the minor leagues the past three seasons — 20 seconds between pitches when there are no runners on base.”
Manfred has made it known that a pitch clock will be established, with or without the approval of the union. Manfred added that he prefers an agreement to be reached between both parties, but made it clear that rule changes will be enforced next season no matter what.
Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Pedro Baez led all qualified relievers with a time of 31.1 seconds in between pitches. The average time in between pitches for starting pitchers was slightly above the 20-second threshold, at 23.5 seconds, so many pitchers will be forced to speed up their routine between pitches.