Major League baseball will have significant rule changes beginning next season.
The league announced Friday they will introduce a pitch clock in hopes of speeding up the game and that all defensive shifts will be banned with the hopes of increasing more offense.
The pitch clock will be set at 15 seconds with empty bases and 20 seconds with runners on.
Defensive alignments must include two fielders on each side of the second-base bag with both feet on the dirt as well as rules limiting pick-off moves and expanding the size of bases.
These rules have been tested out in the minors this season with the average game time lasting 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Under these new rules, the catcher must be in position when the timer hits 10 seconds, the hitter must be have both feet in the batter’s box and be “alert” at the 8-second mark and the pitcher must start his “motion to pitch” by the expiration of the clock. A violation by the pitcher is an automatic ball. One by the hitter constitutes an automatic strike.
In addition there’s a limit on how many times a pitcher can step off the mound and attempt to pick off a runner. The limit for each pitcher is two per plate at-bat.
Additionally, teams will be granted an extra mound visit in the ninth inning if they have exhausted their five allotted visits. If a team still has visits remaining, it does not receive an extra one.