Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Shane Bieber and the rest of major league pitchers are likely to be looking over their shoulders next season — at a pitch clock. Clocks have cut the length of minor league games by about a half-hour this year, and baseball officials appear certain to promote the timers to the majors.
Major League Baseball also is considering shift limits, larger bases, restrictions on pickoff attempts and — perhaps in 2024 — limited use of robot umpires to call balls and strikes. The new collective bargaining agreement includes an 11-person competition committee with six management representatives, four players and one umpire, and it is empowered to make changes by majority vote with 45 days’ notice.
Average time of nine-inning games increased from 2 hours, 43 minutes in 2003 to 3:13 in 2020 before dropping to 3:02 so far this season through July 12, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. A clock experiment in the minor leagues cut the average this year to 2:37 from 3:04 at a similar point for non-clock games last year.