Back in early September there were many rule changes announced for the 2023 season by MLB.
The changes to the pitch timers have been “tested” at the MLB level since 2019. Is it a good idea to use the pitch timer to speed up the pace games? During the 2022 season I went to a total of six games. All of them were over within three hours because of the pitch timer/clock. For me this was a better experience than many four hour games I’ve attended in my life! The pitch timer should be the same with or without batters on base though because of the new device pitchers and catchers are using to call pitches, 15 seconds is enough time even with runners on base.
Another change to the pitching rules that is changing is pitchers will only be allowed two “disengagements” per plate appearance. This is a great rule if they are really trying to keep games shorter because there have been many times over the years where I was watching a game and the pitcher slowed down an inning when the opposing team had one batter on base by making pickoff throws five, six, seven times during the same at bat and in the end only those pickoff throws helped to jumpstart a long inning where five or more runs scored.
As for the bigger bases rule… I am not opposed to it since they are doing it to improve player safety.
Now about the ban of the shift! I watched more games in late the 2022 season than I normally would have because teams started to enforce this rule in live games to prepare their players for the new rule. The ideas of two infielders on each side of second base and all four infielders being required to have their feed on the infield dirt when the pitcher is on rubber are both great! However, instead of banning the shift they should be modifying the use of it the way they are limiting pitchers two pickoff throws per at bat. If they did this the strategy of the game would still be modified but not as much as banning the shift completely.
In essence what they did by banning the shift and limiting pickoff attempts is they said they do not care about length of game at all because there will be the same number of big innings where teams core 5+ runs will likely not decrease and teams will be forced to burn through their bullpens faster especially because of the three batter minimum pitchers have had for a couple seasons now. Overall, I am very neutral about them limiting pickoff attempts and banning the shift because I generally do not believe games will be sped up and I also think we will see more pitching injuries because of relievers having to pitch more often.
With that…. the hot stove is heating up!