Saturday, March 25, 2023

Pitch Clock Curiosity as Catcher Called for Violation for Slow Reaction Time

When asked about a pitch clock violation that resulted in ball four and a walk during Toronto's game against Philadelphia, Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah reported that HP Umpire Brennan Miller called the auto-ball because catcher Alejandro Kirk "didn't react quick enough" after requesting time with the pitch clock nearly at zero.

The newest wrinkle into MLB's pitch clock rule appears to penalize the defense if the catcher doesn't actually venture out to see the pitcher prior to the expiration of time...with some exceptions: Said Manoah, "I was told that Kirk didn't react quick enough coming out to see me. The umpire's arm band buzzed or whatever so it was a ball. I've never heard of that before"

If the pitch clock rules require a catcher to actually leave their catcher's box en route to the mound prior to the expiration of time lest it be deemed an automatic ball, that would be news to us too.

Instead, the likely explanation here involves not just the catcher's lack of urgency, but the game situation as well. Had there been runner(s) on base, the pitcher's disengagement (one of two legal penalty-free disengagements per at-bat [resets if a base runner advances]) would have on its own caused a full reset of the pitch clock.

But because the bases were empty, the pitcher stepping off doesn't actually affect the clock and the catcher's remaining in the crouch behind home plate as the clock expired—even though "Time" was requested and granted by HP Umpire Miller—resulted in a pitch clock violation call as the clock continued to run. Going forward, would you like to see this situation result in a reset, as it does with baserunners?

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Catcher's "Time" request alone doesn't save the pitcher from a clock violation (TOR)


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