MLB still on the clock with 2024 rules changes

League: MLB

Posted on: 21 Dec, 2023 at 08:19 PM

Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball will institute a handful of rules changes for 2024, with many of them modifying adjustments that led to shorter game times last season.

The only rule change for the upcoming season that will not relate to MLB's ongoing desire to shorten game times is with the running lane from home plate to first base.

Runners can now use the area from the first-base foul line to the edge of the infield grass while running to first base. They will not be called for interference if a throw to first base hits them while in the extended area to the immediate left of the foul line.

Depending on the field, the expanded distance from the foul line to the infield grass now open to base runners is 18-24 inches. It will vary in ballparks that use artificial turf.

According to MLB, average game times were just under 2 hours, 40 minutes in 2023, a full 24 minutes shorter than 2022. And the league thinks more dead time can be shaved.

Among the new 2024 rules that address pace of play is the reduction of pitch time with runners on base from 20 seconds to 18 seconds. Also, if a new relief pitcher steps onto the field from the bullpen with less than two minutes remaining during the break in innings, the clock will be reset to two minutes instead of 2:15 like it was in 2023.

Mound visits from catchers and/or coaches will be reduced to four per team per game, down from the maximum five last season. After a dead ball, the pitch clock will start when the pitcher receives the ball as opposed to last season when the clock started after the pitcher stepped on the dirt part of the mound.

Also, a pitcher who warms up before a half inning will have to pitch to at least one batter. On 24 occasions last season, a pitcher warmed up before a half inning only to have a team change the pitcher before a pitch was thrown, adding an additional three minutes per instance.

--Field Level Media