Major League Baseball announced a list of modifications to the change of the rules Thursday morning. The changes will all take effect at the beginning of the 2017 season.
The most notable of the new rule changes is the addition of no-pitch intentional walks, which caused a bit of controversy when it initially was announced a few weeks ago. The new rule allows opposing managers to signal that they would like to issue the intentional walk, bypassing the tradition of the catcher standing up and calling for four balls.
The no-pitch walk removes some potential chaos from the game, eliminating the possibility of a wild pitch or the opportunity for a batter to swing on a pitch that strays too close to the plate, but Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB felt that was a small price to pay for speeding up the game.
MLB’s replay system will also be affected by the changes, with the first giving a manager just 30 seconds after the play to call for a replay from the dugout, forcing them to make quicker decisions on whether or not they believe the umpire made the correct call.
The second change to the replay rule will allow managers to make challenges up through the seventh inning, which is an inning longer than previously allowed. There will also be a two-minute guideline for making decisions on the replays, which means we’re going to see fewer 10-minute delays of games, although there might be an increase of incorrectly reviewed plays.
MLB also addressed the controversy that arose after the Mets accused the Dodgers of using lasers to mark the field for defensive positioning last season. All markings on the field that are to be used for defensive positioning are now banned, including using paint or lasers to make marks in the outfield.
One of the announced rules seems to be targeting Padres reliever Carter Capps, whose new delivery was unveiled by the team on Twitter in slow motion last month. Capps’ delivery has long been controversial, and the new rule prohibits pitchers from shifting or lifting their pivot foot during a pitch. If a pitcher does so with a runner on base then the delivery will be charged as a balk. If the bases are empty it will go down as an illegal pitch and be called a ball.
Finally, third-base coaches will be required to stay in the third-base coach's box before every pitch, refining a rule that was already on the books, but rarely enforced. Coaches will still be allowed to run down the line to scream at runners during the play, as long as they do not interfere with the on-field action.