April 7, 2023

Pitching Regulations and New Timing Rules

Breakdown of the 2023 Pitch Clock rules for Major League Baseball

Pitching Regulations and New Timing Rules

The 2023 Pitch Clock rules for Major League Baseball are as follows:

  • 30-second timer will be used between batters…
  • 20-second timer will be used between pitches with runners on base…
  • 15-second timer will be used between pitches with no runners on base…
  • The Field Timing Coordinator (FTC) will be in charge of the clock for multiple situations.

Question: Are the pitching regulations covering the Pitch Timer subject to Replay Review?

Answer: No.


Question: Under what conditions is a pitcher charged with a Disengagement.

Answer: With runners on base, he should also be charged with a Disengagement if he makes a pickoff attempt, feints a throw to a base, steps off the rubber, if a fielder asks for “Time,” or if a pitcher requests a new ball with less than 9 seconds on the timer. Also, a Disengagement is charged to the pitcher if the catcher gives defensive signals with less than 9 seconds remaining on the Pitch Timer.

With the bases empty, a pitcher can be charged with a “Ball” if his request for a new ball is made with less than 9 seconds on the timer.


Question: If a pitcher has made a third Disengagement with multiple runners on base, should a balk be called if one of the runners is retired and the others advance?

Answer: No. As long as one runner is retired, there is no violation. In one game early in spring training, the offensive team had runners on first and third and two outs and the pitcher had already made two disengagements. He threw over to first as the runners broke. The runner on third attempting to advance home was retired. This was not a violation of the rule because one runner in the play was put out.


Question: If a pitcher picks off a runner does that count as a Disengagement?

Answer: Yes


Question: Pitchers are limited to two Disengagements (pickoff attempts or step-offs) per plate appearance. Is this limit reset if a runner or runners advance during the plate appearance.

Answer: Yes.


Question: Can a pitcher Disengage the rubber with the bases empty.

Answer: Yes, but the time will continue to count down. The pitcher may re-engage the rubber and begin his motion to deliver the pitch before the 15- second time expires, provided his delivery complies with Rule 5.07 (a) (Comment) that reads, “Pitchers may disengage the rubber after taking their signs but may not step quickly onto the rubber to pitch.” This may be judged a quick- pitch by the umpire which is an illegal pitch penalized by a “Ball” with the bases empty and a balk with runners on base. When the pitcher disengages the rubber, he must drop his hands to his sides. If time has expired before he begins his delivery, the pitcher will be charged with a “Ball.”


Question: If a pitcher violates the 15-sec. or 20 sec. time limit and delivers a pitch that a batter hits safely, can the offensive team have the option of taking the play instead of the automatic “Ball?”

Answer: No. The time violation creates an immediate dead ball even if the umpire signals late.


Question: Can a pitcher come set prior to the batter becoming alert in the box?

Answer: No. A “Ball” will be called if there is a violation. Some are calling this the “Scherzer Rule” after the Mets’ pitcher attempted this in the March 3, 2023 Mets-Nationals spring training game. With Ildemaro Vargas on first base and Scherzer pitching out of the stretch, Robles called “Time.” Scherzer immediately got set and threw his next pitch as soon as he believed the batter was ready and the umpire put the ball in play. Umpire Jeremy Riggs charged Scherzer with a quick-pitch “Balk.” Subsequent to this, MLB stated that “umpires are to award a penalty of an automatic ball if the pitcher violates (after being warned or instructed to wait until the batter is alert before coming set).


Question: How will umpires judge a quick-pitch?

Answer: A quick pitch is one that is delivered when the batter is not reasonably set in the batter’s box. A quick-pitch may be assessed when a pitch is delivered with 8 seconds or less remaining on the Pitch Timer, if in the umpire’s judgment, the batter, although alert to the pitcher, has not had sufficient time to become reasonably set in the batter’s box. This of course will be umpire judgment.


Question: If a pitching change is made during a plate appearance, does the new pitcher inherit the number of times the previous pitcher Disengaged during the plate appearance?

Answer: Yes


Question: Will a mound visit by a coach or manager count as a Disengagement?

Answer: No.


Question: There is a 30-second Mound Visit Timer for mound visits. At what point does the timer begin?

Answer: When the manager or coach has exited the dugout or when a defensive player leaves his position to confer with the pitcher. The plate umpire will proceed to the mound when the timer has reached 9 seconds unless the manager or coach signals for a pitching change. Unless there is a pitching change, the manager or coach must leave the mound when time expires.


Question: At what point is the 15-second or 20-second clock re-set for the pitcher if the mound visit by a manager or coach concludes if a pitching change is not made?

Answer: The visit concludes when the manager or coach leaves the dirt circle around the mound . The 15 or 20-second timer will start when the pitcher in possession of the ball on the dirt part of the mound, and both the batter and the catcher are within the dirt circle that surrounds the plate, and play is ready to resume.


Question: If a team has used up all five of its allotted mound visits prior to the ninth inning, can that team receive an additional mound visit in the ninth inning and does this serves as an additional Disengagement?

Answer: Yes.


Question: When there is a pitching change or inning break, is the pitcher guaranteed a certain amount of warmups?

Answer: No. The pitcher is required to deliver the final warmup pitch when there is at least 30 seconds remaining in the inning break/pitching change timer. A violation will result in a “Ball.”


Question: How does the FTC (Field Timing Coordinator) deal with the 2:15 second pitching change limit when a relief pitcher is brought into the game?

Answer: The pitching change timer will reset and will begin as soon as the relief pitcher crosses the warning track or leaves the bullpen area in the case of a bullpen being located on the playing field.


Question: Once a relief pitcher is given a signal to enter the game, how many warmup pitches will he have in the bullpen?

Answer: The pitcher must stop throwing warmup pitches immediately when signaled by the umpire to enter the game. If the pitcher does not leave the bullpen immediately, the umpire should signal for the 2:15 timer to start.


Question: If there is an issue with the PitchCom system, will the umpire grant “Time” to the pitcher?

Answer: Yes, unless the umpire believes the player is circumventing the rule.


Question: If a coach or manager visits the mound because of a PitchCom malfunction, will it count against the team’s five allowed mound visits?

Answer: No.


Question: What if a pitcher or catcher forgets to bring a PitchCom device on the field-will the umpire grant additional time?

Answer: No. During a pitching change or a mound visit, the defensive team can bring out a device.


Question: If a pitcher leaves his position to cover first base or if he must back up a play at third base or the plate, how will this affect the timer?

Answer: The FTC (Field Timing Coordinator) will delay the start of the 30-seconds “Between Batters Timer” until the pitcher returns to the infield grass or fair territory.


Question: When there’s a hit to the outfield, when does the second timer start between batters?

Answer: When the ball is thrown into the infield.


Question: When does the 30-second timer start between batters after a home run is hit?

Answer: When the batter touches home plate.


Question: If there’s a foul ball in the outfield stands when does the FTC start the clock again?

Answer: When the fielder has returned to his position.


Question: What should the umpire do if a coach or player on the defensive team is using tactics to circumvent the timing regulations?

Answer: Charge the pitcher with a “Ball.”


Question: What should the umpire do if a coach or player on the offensive team is using tactics to circumvent the timing regulations?

Answer: Call a “Strike” on the batter.


Question: Should the clock be running if the plate umpire is dusting off home plate?

Answer: No.


Question: Should the clock be running if a hitter is handing off his equipment to a coach after notching a hit?

Answer: No.


Question: Is there one FTC for each ballpark?

Answer: No. Only one FTC is needed to run the timer for a game, but there are anywhere from three to seven FTCs in the mix per Major League market (depending on the number of teams). They tend to be scheduled by series, rather than individual games, so that they can work in tandem with a given umpiring crew.


Question: Can a field umpire stop the clock, if necessary?

Answer: Yes. There is a set of hand signals used by the umps, who will have the discretion to stop the clock in special circumstances, to convey instructions to the FTCs, such as twirling the finger around (similar to a home run call) when a reset of the clock is needed.


Rich Marazzi

Rules consultant/analyst:  Angels, D’backs, Dodgers, Nationals, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Yankees, Bally Sports, YES, and NBC Sports Chicago.  

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