How has the pitch clock affected the Detroit Tigers early on in spring training?
The first games of spring training were played over the weekend. The Detroit Tigers went 1-1, defeating the Phillies 4-2 on Saturday and losing to the Orioles 10-6 on Sunday. But outside of a few new faces, we also got to see some of the new rules that MLB has put in place for the 2023 season in action.
The most relevant change has been the pitch clock. The rule states that a pitcher has 15 seconds to throw a pitch with no runners on base, and 20 seconds with runners on. One thing that got overlooked is that the batter has to be set in the batter's box, looking at the pitcher, with at least eight seconds to go on the pitch clock. If not, the batter receives an automatic strike.
This resulted in a controversial ending to the Red Sox/Braves game on Saturday. Braves infielder Cal Conley was rung up after not getting into the box fast enough to end the game with two outs and the bases loaded. The game ended in a 6-6 tie.
We saw this in action with the Detroit Tigers as well. During Sunday's game. Nick Maton, who homered earlier in the game, took a pitch up and in that spun him out of the box, but he quickly got back in as if nothing happened to avoid adding a strike to the count.
Of course, the pitch clock was implemented to improve the pace of play around baseball, and so far, it is working as intended. The Tigers' game on Saturday wrapped up in a brisk 2 hours and 17 minutes. Sunday's game, which featured 16 runs scored and several mid-inning pitching changes, still got done in under three hours at 2 hours and 46 minutes. Now neither of those games were televised, so there were no commerical breaks to stretch things out, but that's still a stark difference.
Even in the regular season, where all games will be televised, this still looks like it is going to cut at least 15-20 minutes off of game times. That's a significant decrease from years past.
I do believe the outcry from what happened in the Red Sox/Braves game is a bit overblown. This is what exhibition games are for. They're meant to iron out the kinks of stuff like this. By the end of spring training, everyone will be used to the pitch clock. It's been in the minors for years, and there were no major issues with it.
Everything will turn out alright. Everyone will adjust to the pitch clock like they have with every other new rule.
As for the Detroit Tigers, there really hasn't been any major issues with the pitch clock. Some Tigers pitchers, such as Eduardo Rodriguez, already work fast, so this won't be much an adjustment for them at all. I fully expect the pitch clock to become less and less of a story as the season goes on.