Imagine the following scenario: It’s the bottom of the ninth during Game 7 of the World Series. Your favorite team is trailing by a run and is down to its last strike with a runner on third base. As you try to take in the enormity of the moment, the pitch flies past the batter for strike three. The game is already over.
MLB will reportedly keep the pitch-clock rules in place during the 2023 postseason, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, which should keep games moving at a much quicker pace.
Under the current rules, a pitcher has 15 seconds between pitches when no runners are on base. That figure jumps to 20 seconds when runners are present. Players reportedly wanted more time between pitches in the postseason, per Passan.
The pitch clock, which debuted in the majors this season, has generally been a success. Game times have dropped dramatically. Since 2019, the average MLB game lasted more than three hours. That figure is down to 2:39 in 2023, per a June 1 study by CBSSports.com.
The quicker pace of games has mostly been celebrated by fans, though there are instances when the pitch clock can negatively impact games. Chicago Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger was called for a pitch-clock violation in April after he received a standing ovation from Los Angeles Dodgers fans. The call came during Bellinger’s first at-bat against his former team, and the violation marred an otherwise uplifting moment.
One could argue that postseason games won’t be as dramatic with the pitch clock in place. If there were ever a moment when fans wanted a baseball game to slow down, it would probably be during a tense matchup at the end of the game. The Shohei Ohtani-Mike Trout at-bat during the World Baseball Classic might’ve had a different feel had the pitch clock been utilized, as the time Ohtani took between pitches added to the flair and drama of the matchup.
At the same time, anyone who has watched MLB postseason games the past few years can remember games lasting longer than four hours. Even when two excellent teams are playing, those contests can be a slog.
Given all that, keeping the rules consistent was probably the best choice. Players have gotten used to the pitch clock by now, and asking them to change things when the games matter most could’ve led to mistakes and confusion.
Maybe the games will be shorter, but it’s still the postseason. The games will provide plenty of drama.