Since Rob Manfred took over as the commissioner of Major League Baseball in 2015, he has put a big emphasis on improving the pace of play of games.
He has made changes like eliminating the need to throw four pitches for intentional walk, implemented a clock between innings for pitchers to warm up and put a time limit in place for managers to decide on whether they’d like to challenge a play.
But the changes have not quite panned out, as the average time of games has slightly increased each of the last two seasons from two hours and 56 minutes in 2015 to an even three hours in 2016 and three hours and five minutes in 2017.
Feeling more changes are needed, Manfred announced earlier this offseason that a 20-second pitch clock will be implemented for the 2018 season in order to continue to speed up pace-of-play.
According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, MLB plans to meet with the Players Association in the coming weeks to discuss new changes, which also includes limiting the number of times catchers can visit the mound:
Officials from Major League Baseball and the Players Association expect to meet next week in New York to discuss new pace-of-play initiatives that would go into effect during the 2018 season, a source said Thursday.
The major changes under consideration are a pitch clock and a limitation on catcher mound visits.
Under MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement, Manfred has the ability to institute changes without the Player Association’s approval. Despite that, he has always expressed a desire to come to an agreement before unilaterally implementing any new rules.
Baseball first started using a pitch clock in the Minor Leagues in 2015 to test out the system, but 2018 will be the first year that it reaches the Majors.
Pitchers averaged 22 seconds between pitches in 2017, so many will be forced to speed up under the new 20-second limit in 2018.