MLB announced pace of play initiatives that will go into effect for the 2018 season, with the biggest change being that mound visits that are not for a pitching change will be limited to six per game, with one additional one being provided during extra-inning games.
MLB outlined an official mound visit as one that whenever a coach or manager visits the mound, it constitutes a visit. As does a player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher or when a pitcher leaves the mound to constitute with a position player.
However, if the discussions between pitchers and players occur between batters in a normal course of play, a player is cleaning his spikes in rainy conditions or the visit to the mound is because of an injury to the pitcher or during an offensive substitution, it does not count as an official visit.
MLB also realizes that for the safety of all players, pitchers and catchers will need to communicate if they cross up signs, so umpires have the ability to call additional visits for that purpose if all six mound visits have been used.
Instant replay is also being adjusted, as teams’ video review rooms will now have the benefit of “direct slow motion camera angles.” Additionally, phone lines “connecting the video review rooms and the dugout” will be installed and monitored to ensure they not used for the purposes of sign stealing.
Time between innings was reduced to 2:05 and 2:25, for locally and nationally televised regular-season games, respectively. That time is 2:55 for tiebreaker and postseason games.
“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,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a released statement.
“My strong preference is to continue to have ongoing dialogue with the players on this topic to find mutually acceptable solutions.”
One noticeable absence in the changes was a pitch clock, which was discussed at length this offseason but ultimately Manfred decided not to implement it due to the backlash from players. Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen was among those to strongly argue against it.
Previous pace of play initiatives have not been successful in reducing the average time of games, so it will be interesting to see if this does the trick or if other changes will need to be made in the future.