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MLB Votes to Implement Pitch Clock, Ban Defensive Shifts Starting in 2023

Adam WellsSeptember 9, 2022

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Pitchers will be on a time restriction and defensive shifts will no longer be allowed during the 2023 Major League Baseball season.

Per ESPN's Jeff Passan, MLB's competition committee voted to approve a pitch clock and ban defensive shifts.

Passan also noted the competition committee unanimously voted to approve the use of larger bases. All three changes will be implemented starting next season.

According to a statement released by the MLB Players Association, players on the competition committee unanimously voted against the approval of a pitch clock and the banning of defensive shifts.

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The new rules will give pitchers 15 seconds between pitches with the bases empty and 20 seconds with runners on base. Banning shifts means teams will be required to have two defensive players on either side of the second-base bag with both feet on the infield dirt.

Per ESPN's Jesse Rogers, MLB's goal in making these changes is to "increase action on the field, quicken the pace and reduce the amount of time it takes to play a major league game."

MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince noted in May the average game time across the minors this season was two hours, 35 minutes once the pitch clock went into effect. It was two hours, 59 minutes in the first two weeks of the 2022 season before leagues began using the clock.

"I don't think there have been a lot of concessions made in terms of quality of play [with the clock]," Lake County Captains manager Greg DiCenzo told Castrovince. "I haven't seen that. It's in conjunction with pitchers getting on the mound and not stepping off as much and defensive players being ready to play and being a little more engaged and not drifting off mentally."

Minor League Baseball began using pitch clocks during games in 2015. MLB began experimenting with pitch clocks for big leaguers during spring training in 2019.

The MiLB pitch clock rules are utilized differently than they will be in MLB. Minor leaguers have 14 seconds between pitches with the bases empty and 18 seconds with runners on base (19 seconds in Triple-A). There is also a 30-second timer between batters.

The average MLB game in 2022 takes three hours, five minutes to complete. It's on pace to be the sixth consecutive season with an average game time of at least three hours.

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