After games trended longer as the 2023 season progressed, MLB is weighing whether to further shorten the pitch clock with runners on base, ESPN's Jeff Passan reports.
Per the report, MLB's competition committee is considering a proposal that would shorten the pitch clock with runners on base from 20 seconds to 18 seconds. The pitch clock without runners on base would remain at 15 seconds.
The goal is to reverse a trend that saw the average time of games increase by seven minutes from the beginning to the end of the season, per the report. The average game time in the first two months of the season upon the implementation of the pitch clock was two hours and 37 minutes. By season's end, the average game length increased to 2:44 as pitchers and catchers adjusted to the new rules.
Both game lengths are considerably lower than the 3:04 average game time seen in 2022 prior to the implementation of the pitch clock, a trend widely seen as a success for baseball. The proposal seeks to build off that success in an attempt to further reduce game times. The committee is also considering reducing the number of mound visits in a game from five to four.
The competition committee consists of six team representatives, four players and one umpire, giving teams a weighted advantage over players in the decision-making process. Per the report, players are considering the proposals and are expected to present the committee with suggestions on their behalf before the committee makes its ruling. If the proposals are approved, they could be implemented with 45 days notice in time for the 2024 season.
The downside of the reduced pitch clock is a belief that further speeding up the game would increase the risk of injuries to pitchers. Per the report, some players have blamed the pitch clock for playing a role in a rash of pitching injuries during the 2023 season. MLB has pushed back on that hypothesis.