An MLB pitch clock was already looking likely for 2018. They’ve been testing this in the minor leagues and everything seems poised to take it to the next level, as long as the players and league agree on the system so it can be incorporated in 2018 rather than the season after.
The whole “agree” thing is the important step though, and the latest reports say the specific point that both sides are haggling about is the length of the pitch clock.
In the minors, the pitch clock is set at 20 seconds. That’s with no runners on base, and the limitation means that pitchers have to begin their motion before the clock runs out.
According to an ESPN report, through, the players and the union are going to try and shift that upwards two or three seconds to make it more amenable to their current gameplay.
Included in that report is that no starting pitcher who qualified for the ERA title also had a between-pitch pace of 20 seconds or less. So those few seconds might make a big difference for people like Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, and Corey Kluber.
Don’t forget about how it might affect batters as well though. A pitch clock might be focused on getting pitchers’ breaks down to a more reasonable pace but that also means when they start their motion a batter has to be in the box to receive the pitch.
If you’ve watched literally 30 seconds of baseball ever you know that a lot of batters are not in too much of a hurry to get back in the box because of “superstition” and “routine” and “oh, dear God, please stop fixing your gloves every time that can’t be necessary.”
Even a few seconds off the pace of a game would be helpful, so hopefully this isn’t a protracted argument over adding 1.29 seconds to the clock that prevents it from being put into major league game play by next season.