Times (of baseball games) could change


Buck Showalter was discussing PitchCom’s ability to streamline signals between pitcher and catcher when the Mets manager abruptly changed course — as he often does — at game time.

Showalter jokingly suggested that only two groups really cared about game length, primarily referees and reporters. Unless he lost a brutally long one. Then it was hard to bear.

“I’m not a big guy about playing time, although I would love to get there,” Showalter said last week. “I’m on the tempo and rhythm of the game.”

Which brings us to Carlos Carrasco’s gem on Thursday, when the Mets beat the Giants, 6-2, in 2 hours and 35 minutes. And for a manager who supposedly doesn’t dwell on such things, it was the first thing Showalter mentioned in his post-match press conference.

“What did it take, 2:35?” he said. “Now what do you do with yourself the rest of the night?” »

Thursday was Exhibit A of what Major League Baseball plans to happen with greater frequency in the very near future once the pace of play rules already in effect at the minor league level are applied to the majors, ideally. for the 2023 season.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has been pushing for a pitch clock for much of the last decade, and the experimental phase in the minors has had the desired effect in the first two weeks of the season.

This year, a 14-second shot clock is used with empty bases and an 18-second shot clock with runner(s) in place. Through April 17, based on a total of 132 games, the average length of a nine-inning game was 2:39, compared to 2:59 for games this season without a clock. A year ago, without a clock, a nine-inning game was 3:03.

On Friday, out of 430 games at the major league level, the average length of a nine-inning game was 3:06, according to baseball-reference.com. A year ago, it was 3:10, the longest in history.

And when was the last time, you might be wondering, that an MLB game lasted an average of 2:39, as it currently fits in the minors this season? That would be 1985. It went to 2:44 the following season and pretty much accelerated from there.

So far, these are very promising stats among miners. But the pitch clock, as currently designed, also has significant penalties. A batter must be ready to bat with nine seconds remaining on the clock or they are awarded a strike. If a pitcher does not deliver the ball before time runs out, they are saddled with a ball. To date, there have been 259 violations, 73 on batters and 186 on pitchers.

Despite the concern that the pitch clock would have a huge impact on the attack one way or another, it seems to be minimal. This year, games with the clock are averaging 5.11 runs, 15.9 hits and a .240 batting average. Last season it was 5.11, 16.5 and 0.247. Homer percentage fell slightly from 2.9 to 2.7, strikeouts went from 25.4% to 26.0%, and walks went from 10.2% to 11%.

MLB’s implementation of detection limits also appears to have produced the desired results, increasing both the number of stolen base attempts and the success rate. Under this rule, pitchers are allowed to take relief from the plate twice during each plate appearance with a runner on base. Any subsequent disengagement must retire the runner or the pitcher is charged with a disallowance.

Through April 17, in games using both the timer and the out-limit, there were an average of 2.97 stolen base attempts with an 80% success rate. Minus the stopwatch, attempts dropped to 2.71, with the success rate remaining the same. Last season, without the clock or withdrawal limits in effect, the average was 2.51 attempts with a success rate of 75%.

This is a radical difference with the MLB. On Friday, there were an average of 0.56 stolen base attempts per game, with a success rate of 72.1%. In 2021, teams averaged just 1.20 attempts, the lowest total of any season since 1964.

At the end of the CBA’s spirited and protracted negotiations this winter, the plan was to delay these rule changes until 2023, based on the new approval process. While the Players Association has traditionally pushed back the infield clock – believing this to be too drastic an adjustment for pitchers – the new system in place for rule changes only allows for a warning from 45 MLB days (vs. one year) in conjunction with a review by an 11-person committee consisting of four active players, six MLB members and an umpire.

not Short jumps

not According to manager Aaron Boone, the Yankees won’t be at a disadvantage on the May 2 trip to Toronto because he expects the roster to be fully vaccinated.

The same can’t be said for the Red Sox, however. They’ll have a number of players who won’t be able to cross the border this week, including unvaccinated starter Tanner Houck, who was in turn at Rogers Center on Tuesday. Boston manager Alex Cora, who tested positive on Wednesday and did not travel with the team to Tampa Bay, has previously said Houck was not alone among the team’s anti-vax crowd, but these remaining names will not be public until they meet. their travel list for Toronto.

The Red Sox were among six teams that fell short of the 85% vaccination threshold last season, but a handful managed to get vaccinated over the winter, including the three-time All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

not Japanese phenom Roki Sasaki, a 20-year-old right-hander for the Chiba Lotte Marines, is looking to stay perfect on Sunday. Incredibly, for a third straight start.

Sasaki pitched a perfect game on April 10, reportedly the first in 28 years for NPB, with 13 straight hits (19 total), and followed that up with eight perfect innings (14 strikeouts) the next time around before be retired after 102 throws. Heading into Sunday, Sasaki struck out 52 consecutive batters.

As for seeing him in the United States, word is that Sasaki is likely years away from being assigned to MLB teams, and under current rules foreign players must wait until they are 25 so as not to be subject to bonus pool money restrictions.

notThe Giants rattled the Nationals Friday night to the point where Alcides Escobar and Victor Robles came close to shout from the visitors’ dugout in the ninth inning of San Francisco’s 7-1 win. What was the offence? Not a bean ball, or even a blatant bat flip. The Nationals were furious that Thairo Estrada tried to score from the first base on Brandon Crawford’s hit-and-run single with a six-point lead in the ninth.

Estrada was ejected at home plate to end the inning – problem solved, right? — but the Nationals kept barking that the Giants were breaking an “unwritten rule.”

Such behavior is more than ridiculous. It’s not Little League. What is Estrada supposed to do? Stop at third? This way the inning continues and the Giants have even more chances to score. The Giants were doing nothing more than playing the game right. As for the last nationals, who were world champions three years ago, they should know not to get angry with an opposing team for playing winning baseball.

notMLB has long waited to find a legal way to make baseball stickier following its repeated crackdowns on banned sticky substances. With the miserable April weather, most pitchers complained that they had no grip on the baseball, as the bag of rosin feels little better than the cold weather talcum powder that dipped in the 30s and 40. If MLB does not make balls with built-in grip, offer an approved substance. Some pitchers have suggested a sticky rag on the back of the mound. Such a conversation began between MLB and the union early in the offseason, but was dropped as contentious CBA negotiations dragged on.

Max Scherzer hit a hit in the sixth inning on Tuesday in miserable conditions, but as the night grew colder the ball became more of a problem.

“When you’re not sweating, it feels like you’re throwing a cue ball,” Scherzer said after Tuesday’s start. “Everyone was clinging to everything. It’s just part of the game right now. It’s just frustrating.

Also dangerous, as the Mets can attest after having Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor drill into the face mask during the season opener in DC As the weather warms up, that should be less of a problem, but why? count on it when the problem can be easily fixed?


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