Major League Baseball has announced changes that are aimed at speeding up the pace of games for the 2018 season. The changes include a limit of six mound visits for catchers and coaches per game that are not related to a pitching change, and a shortening of the time between innings. There are some exceptions to the limits and there will be no pitch clock for the 2018 season, according to MLB.com
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the changes, emphasizing that players were consulted before any moves were made.
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. My strong preference is to continue to have ongoing dialogue with players on this topic to find mutually acceptable solutions.
While the limit on the number of mound visits is the most significant action being announced, there are a number of other tweaks to the rules as well, including a reduction in the time between innings from two minutes, 25 seconds to two minutes, five seconds. This time is kept on a clock that has been introduced with little fanfare for the past few seasons. The break will be two minutes, 55 seconds for nationally televised games, tiebreaker games and playoff games.
Even with the limits on mound visits, there will be exceptions to the new rule for injuries or if the pitcher and catcher get “crossed up” in their signals. There is also a timer for pitching changes, which begins once the new relief pitcher crosses the warning track. The announcement also states that “the batters’ box rule which was in effect for 2017 will remain.” Finally, Manfred indicated that they are working on ways to speed up the review process for replays.
MLBPA leader Tony Clark endorsed the changes:
(Players) are committed to playing a crisp and exciting brand of baseball for the fans, but they remain concerned about rule changes that could alter the outcome of games and the fabric of the game itself -- now or in the future.
The players’ association had balked at previously suggested changes, which would have included the use of a pitch clock, that the Commissioner had threatened to implement unilaterally if the players did not agree on changes to speed up the game.