REPORT: MLB to Vote (And Pass) 2023 Rule Changes Tomorrow - Pitch Clock, Shift Restrictions, Pickoff Limits, More

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REPORT: MLB to Vote (And Pass) 2023 Rule Changes Tomorrow – Pitch Clock, Shift Restrictions, Pickoff Limits, More

Chicago Cubs

At noon tomorrow (Friday, September 9), the fabric of baseball is likely going to change dramatically and forever.

According to Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich (The Athletic), that’s when the league’s newly formed competition committee is expected to vote through a significant set of rule changes ahead of the 2023 season:

“People with knowledge of the discussion said that this amended proposal was the final form, and would be voted on by the competition committee for implementation in the 2023 season …. The commissioner’s office has a majority of seats on the sport’s 11-person competition committee…giving the league the power to push through its most recent proposal.”

So what’s in the amended proposal? A LOT. And you’ll have to check out The Athletic for the full rundown. But here’s the gist of the biggest changes.

  • Pitch Clock – pitchers will have 20 seconds to start their throwing motion with runners on base and 15 seconds with the bases empty. If there’s a violation, the penalty is an automatic ball. Pitchers, catchers, and separately, hitters, are all subject to the clock in various ways. There are a lot of details and caveats. You’ll just have to check it out to understand fully.
  • Shift Restrictions – A defense must have two infielders on both sides of second base, in front of the outfield grass (sadly, this is not the “cone” shift restrictions which had a more significant impact … maybe in the future).
  • Pick-off Limits – the most surprising change is the limitation of pickoff throws(!), which is capped at 2 per plate appearances, a number that resets if a runner advances a base on a steal. There’s a twist, though. A pitcher can step off a third (or more) time without penalty *if* they successfully pick off the runner. However, if there’s no out recorded, it’s a balk and the runner advances. This will prevent runners from going CRAZY, because otherwise, yeah, every lead would look like Jon Lester’s on the mound.

That pickoff limit is pretty enormous news. MLB is not messing around when they say they want to increase the action on the field. And remember, all of this is is in addition to larger bases around the diamond starting next season.

We’re going to have so much more on all of this in the coming weeks and months, but for now, this is huge news. The vote is tomorrow and it’s expected to pass.

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami