SEATTLE – Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred will consider increasing time on the pitch clock for the postseason but is reluctant to adjust an innovation the sport considers a great success.
In the first season of the clock, the average time of a nine-inning game is 2 hours, 38 minutes, on track to be the fastest since 1984. It is down from 3:04 last year and 3:09 in 2021, the last season before PitchCom was introduced.
"We’re going to continue to talk to the players," Manfred told the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Tuesday. “I think you ought to play the postseason the way you play the regular season. There’s exceptions. I’m open-minded on that topic.”
The clock is set at 15 seconds with no runners on base and 20 seconds with runners. There also are restrictions on defensive shifts and limits on pitcher disengagements.
“I don’t believe there’s any player, nor do I believe there are too many folks that want to have a new rule dramatically affect a game in a pennant chase or in the playoffs,” union head Tony Clark told the BBWAA. “Players believe and we’ve been pretty consistent with this, that there are some adjustments that could be beneficial in the grand scheme of things so that we’re not having a conversation about a new rule and instead focused in on the game being played."
MLB has a majority of the 11-member competition committee, which includes four players.
"We are comfortable with the way the clock and the violations, particularly late in the game in high-leverage situations we’ve been watching, have been managed,” Manfred said,
There were 721 violations through July 4, of which 501 were by pitchers, 208 by batters and 12 by catchers. Philadelphia's Craig Kimbrel lead currently with 11 violations, followed by Toronto's Chris Bassitt with nine and San Diego's Joe Musgrove with seven.
“In a big spot,” Kimbrel said Monday, “if it's 1-2, 0-2, I'm really thinking about my pitch and wanting to make a good pitch. I’m not going to rush just to get the pitch off. I’d rather take the ball.”
Left-handed batters are hitting .248, up 13 points through the similar point last season. Righties are hitting .248, up one point, leaving the overall batting average up six points.
Runs per game have increased to 9.1 from 8.7 and steals per game to 1.4 from 1.0.
Average attendance of 28,404 is up 8.1% from a similar time last year and on track to be the highest since 2018, and MLB says the median age of ticket buyers is 43, down from 46 in 2022 and 49 in 2019. This is the first season since 2000 with a balanced schedule.