A shortened 18-second pitch clock with runners on base, a wider runner’s lane between home and first base, and one less mound visit will all be part of the changes coming to Major League Baseball in 2024. These adjustments were formally approved by the competition committee on Thursday, following initial reports by The Athletic from the general managers’ meetings earlier in November. The most significant changes include the following:
The pitch clock: Pitchers will now have 18 seconds between pitches with runners on base, reducing the time from 20 seconds this year. This change was proposed in response to the average time of a nine-inning game increasing by more than seven minutes from April to September.
The runner’s lane: The dirt area along the first-base line will be widened by 6 inches next season to address concerns from runners about the current runner’s lane forcing them to navigate between fair and foul territory on their way to first base. This adjustment aims to allow runners to take a more direct route without risking interference calls.
Fewer mound visits: Mound visits per team per game will be reduced from five to four, with the exception of one extra visit in the ninth inning for teams that have exhausted their allotment. Catchers will also be able to call for a mound visit to avoid a clock violation without physically going to the mound.
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Three other pace-of-game rule changes include:
- Reducing the time relievers have to warm up after leaving the bullpen from 2:15 to 2 minutes
- Starting the pitch clock after a foul ball when the pitcher has the ball and all fielders have returned to their positions
- Requiring any pitcher who warms up at the start of an inning to face at least one hitter
However, three other proposed changes have not been implemented. MLB withdrew a proposal to restart the pitch clock immediately after a batter called timeout, and discussions are ongoing about tightening the language around fielders blocking bases and requiring all pitchers to work from the stretch with runners on base. All these changes will go into effect next year, following more than a month and a half of discussions and surveys with players, managers, coaches, front offices, and owners.
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(Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn / Minnesota Twins / Getty Images)