MLB has announced new pace of play rules that will go into effect for the 2018 season. MLB is not instituting a pitch clock, which has been perhaps the most prominent proposal that has been talked about, saying the league wants to try to give teams an opportunity to speed up pace of play without a formal clock.
However, teams are now limited to six mound visits per side, per game, that result in something other than a pitching change. Mound visits are apparently defined as not just being a manager or pitching coach coming to the mound, but also a catcher or other position play going to the mound to confer with a pitcher.
This has the potential to be significant, as catcher visits are now limited, and teams will have to decide whether to burn a mound visit to, for example, give a pitcher a breather or confer about how to defend a potential bunt play. It also potentially makes teams more vulnerable to sign stealing, as catchers will be less inclined to go to the mound to discuss pitches or change signs with the pitchers.
In addition, MLB is instituting a timer for breaks between innings, and rules are now in place regarding how quickly pitchers must be ready to pitch after a between-inning break, and how quickly hitters must be in the box and ready.
The change in the rules regarding mound visits seems, to me, to potentially have a bigger impact than pitch clocks would, and it will be interesting to see how this impacts team strategy going forward.
You can read the entirety of the new rules in the tweet below: