Chicago Cubs: Pitch clock to be used in Spring Training

Rob Manfred / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Rob Manfred / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Sunday that one pace-of-play initiative would be implemented for Spring Training in 2019: the pitch clock.

One rule change for 2019 Spring Training will affect every MLB team, including the Chicago Cubs: a pitch clock will be used throughout the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Sunday.

Several other rule changes were recently discussed for the 2019 season, including a universal designated hitter and a requirement that each pitcher faces a minimum of three batters. However, the pitch clock is the only rule change that will be used for Spring Training.

The pitch clock has been proposed in past years. However, other measures to speed up pace-of-play have been adopted over the past two seasons. In 2017, the intentional walk was changed so that the pitcher no longer throws all four pitches; the manager simply signals for the batter to advance to first. In 2018, the mound visit limit was implemented for a similar purpose of increasing pace-of-play.

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How will it work?

Manfred neglected to give extensive details about how the pitch clock will work, acknowledging in this video that a release giving more exact information will become available in the future.

He did confirm that the pitch clock will be 20 seconds. He also explained that the pitch clock would likely be phased into Spring Training games. Thus, the first MLB Spring Training games on Thursday and Friday may not have a fully functioning pitch clock yet.

There is still the potential that the pitch clock could be used in the major leagues at the beginning of the 2019 season. The Spring Training implementation serves as a sort of trial run to test it out and see how effective it is in speeding up pace-of-play.

What effect will it have?

The 20-second pitch clock has been used in the minor leagues since the 2015 season, so it’s nothing new to many of the youngest players in the big leagues now. According to this article by Sam Dykstra of, in its first season, the pitch clock succeeded in reducing game times at each level of the minor leagues. Still, it seems like game time isn’t necessarily the issue people should be concerned with—rather, the pace of the game is a more pertinent issue.

Still, the fact that the pitch clock has existed in the minors since 2015 means that for some of the youngest MLB players, it’s all they’ve known their whole career. So it shouldn’t be too difficult for the players to adjust to this change, whether they like it or not.

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Pace-of-play initiatives like this one have certainly succeeded in stirring up controversy among baseball fans. Some attest that they don’t care about pace-of-play; they like baseball just how it is. But this is a small enough change that it doesn’t affect the fundamentals of the game. The question is, will it actually be effective in increasing pace-of-play? That remains to be seen.