Pitch Timer (2023 rule change)
In September 2022, Major League Baseball announced three rule changes that were approved by the league’s Competition Committee. The rules were adopted after extensive testing at the Minor League level over a several-year period and with feedback from MLB player and umpire representatives.
In an effort to create a quicker pace of play, a 30-second timer between batters will be implemented in 2023. Between pitches, a 15-second timer will be in place with the bases empty and a 20-second timer with runners on base.
The rule change stipulates the following:
- The pitcher must begin his motion to deliver the pitch before the expiration of the pitch timer. Pitchers who violate the timer are charged with an automatic ball. Batters who violate the timer are charged with an automatic strike.
- Batters must be in the box and alert to the pitcher by the 8-second mark or else be charged with an automatic strike.
- With runners on base, the timer resets if the pitcher attempts a pickoff or steps off the rubber.
- Pitchers are limited to two disengagements (pickoff attempts or step-offs) per plate appearance. However, this limit is reset if a runner or runners advance during the plate appearance.
- If a third pickoff attempt is made, the runner automatically advances one base if the pickoff attempt is not successful.
- Mound visits, injury timeouts and offensive team timeouts do not count as a disengagement.
- If a team has used up all five of its allotted mound visits prior to the ninth inning, that team will receive an additional mound visit in the ninth inning. This effectively serves as an additional disengagement.
- Umpires may provide extra time if warranted by special circumstances. (So if, as an example, a catcher were to be thrown out on the bases to end the previous half-inning and needed additional time to put on his catching gear, the umpire could allow it.)