Wednesday, February 22, 2012

MLB Institutes Pace-of-Game Pitcher Warmup Rule to Prevent Stalling

Q: What do MLB manager Joes Girardi, Maddon and Torre all have in common?

A: They have all employed a strategy that, in 2012, will be illegal in baseball.

Earlier this offseason, MLB's Playing Rules Committee had proposed a modification to OBR 3.05, which governs pitchers and their substitutes. The tweak was recently approved by MLB, the players' and umpires' unions, meaning the new rule will take effect in 2012.

Under MLB's newest rule, managers will be prohibited from "sending his current pitcher out to warm up with no intention of having him pitch because a relief pitcher is not ready to enter the game."

MLB has recently taken a significant interest in finding ways to speed up the pace of the average baseball game, which currently runs about three hours. This Rule 3.05 modification is expected to limit managers' ability to stall in order to allow a cold reliever an opportunity to warm in the bullpen, before entering the game and receiving even more warmup pitches.

In other words, "last minute bullpen managing" will be a thing of the past and skippers will be forced to return to a time during which they had to plan ahead.

Specifically, during a Rays-Brewers game last June, Tampa Bay skipper Joe Maddon sent position player Sam Fuld out to the mound to begin the bottom of the eighth inning. Fuld had pinch hit for reliever J.P. Howell in the top half of the frame.

Fuld—who clearly wasn't going to pitch—threw several warmup tosses before being yanked for reliever Cesar Ramos, who had gotten warm in the Rays' pen as Fuld was completing his allotted warmup pitches.

Had the 3.05 rule change been in effect last season, Ramos would have had to enter the game while he was still cold.

News: MLB's new 'Joe Maddon rule'


Tony Hendrix said...

I don't know what the language will be, but they should require the pitcher who comes to the mound between innings to pitch to the first batter, just as if it were the start of the game.

yawetag said...

I agree, Tony. If you toe the rubber between innings, you pitch to the first batter (barring injury, of course).

Anonymous said...

Good move on MLB's part. If the pitcher is going to be cold going out there, it's the manager's fault—it's not the umpire's responsibility in pro-ball to make up for the manager's mistake.

Anonymous said...

Give me one senario where the manager would some how not have a pitcher ready? This rule change more than likely eliminates the last second strategy of changing pitchers. Managers will no longer have the ability to use the banned delay tatic, they'll have to use the guy who is ready. I guarentee you, a pithcer now a days would outright refuse to pitch ice cold. He'd walk off and call his agent. I think he mite have claim. Dangerous work enviroment. The guy might ruin his career after all.

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