MLB Looking to Implement 20-Second Pitch Clock in Pace-of-Play Initiative

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2017

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: Baseballs sit in the dugout before a game between the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on September 23, 2017 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Major League Baseball reportedly wants to speed up the pace of play next year with the use of a 20-second pitch clock.  

Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported the news Monday, noting the 20-second clock (with no runners on base) was used in the minor leagues during the last three seasons. Olney pointed out MLB can implement the rule for the 2018 campaign even without agreement from the Players Association but would rather do so with negotiation so "both sides will be committed moving forward."

This move would immediately force pitchers to adjust considering only five pitchers—among those who threw at least 50 innings—averaged fewer than 20 seconds in between pitches in 2017, per FanGraphs.

Olney noted improving pace of play is a concern for commissioner Rob Manfred, especially with the average game time above three hours last year.

The pitch clock is not a new idea, though. Bob Nightengale of USA Today said in July the pitch clock was coming, which didn't sit well with some pitchers.

"You know it's going to happen, no doubt about it," Pat Neshek, then of the Philadelphia Phillies, told Nightengale. "Most of us don't like it. But he's going to do what he wants to do."

"It seems pretty drastic to me," Cleveland Indians All-Star reliever Andrew Miller said, per Nightengale. "I'm not for the pitch clock. I'm very against it. I wish we were listened to a little bit more. Having the downtime in games is a bigger issue for me."

Fans and players alike saw MLB implement a rule last season which allowed teams to intentionally walk batters without throwing an actual pitch with the idea of increasing pace of play as the impetus. It appears as if one of the primary 2018 rule changes will impact every pitch instead of only the ones previously thrown on intentional passes.