Early in spring training, Cubs are embracing the pitch clock
Love it. Hate it. Feel indifferent toward it. Major League Baseball's new pitch clock is the law of the land, at least as far as the 30 big league clubs are concerned and, so far, the Chicago Cubs seem to be embracing the change.
Chicago's Cactus league opener on Saturday at Sloan Park featured 18 runs, 25 hits and six errors (all of which were committed by the Giants) and still lasted only 3 hours and 6 minutes. Veteran catcher Yan Gomes had this to say when speaking to the Chicago Tribune about how things felt under the new rules.
"I feel like sometimes we were like going a little faster than normal (today), and I feel like we had some more time to go. It really brings the big-game environment every time, so once we (are) in Chicago, we’re going to start seeing big games late in the seventh, eighth inning and giving up a ball, giving up a strike or a balk, whatever it is, it’s going to mean a lot ... So we’re going to have figure it out. But I can’t wait to see what that’s going to look like."- Yan Gomes, Cubs catcher
Especially early on in spring training, it's going to be a period of adjustment. After all, game times have slowly crept up year after year, peaking in 2021 at 3.1 hours. The three-hour mark has been the norm since the Cubs won it all back in 2016; the pitch clock could help things drop back more toward the mark we saw early in the 21st century, around the 2 1/2-hour mark.
Cubs looking to make the most of new MLB pitch clock
Some of the game's craftier pitchers like Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman are already hard at work, figuring out ways to use the pitch clock to their advantage. That might help offset the 'advantage' hitters have with the ban of the infield shift, which necessitates two defenders on each side of second base.
"I’ve got some things coming. I’m not going to show any of them, but yeah, I’m definitely going to manipulate it and use it to my favor for sure. If they’re going to make us rush, then I’m going to find a way to be me out there no matter what. It’s something I truly don’t worry about. You just have to go out there attacking and put the whole pitch-clock thing in the back of your mind.” "- Marcus Stroman, Cubs pitcher
Others, like key offseason signing Dansby Swanson, is hoping this is just a jumping off point and more middle ground might be possible between the MLBPA and MLB when it comes to the pitch clock. Regardless, there haven't been many issues that have come up from the change for the Cubs yet - and with the adjusted camera angles that will be commonplace throughout the league where TV viewers aren't staring down the barrel of a pitch clock ticking down, I doubt many folks will even notice a difference - apart from the shorter game times - by Opening Day.