MLB will allow pitchers and catchers the option of using a new signalling technology that was tested in spring training games, according to Buster Olney.
The system, which Olney says those in the industry refer to as “PitchCom,” allows catchers to push buttons on a pad strapped to their wrist to call a pitch. That sign is then heard by the pitcher through a speaker in the pitcher’s cap. The mechanism is designed to allow teams to avoid the potential of opponent’s stealing signs, whether illegally — as the Astros did — or legally, when a runner is at second base and is able to decipher the signs and relay it to the hitter.
Part of the benefit of this is that it speeds up play. Normally, with a runner on second, a catcher has to go through a series of signs for each pitch in order to keep the runner from being able to determine what is being called. Running through the entire series — sometimes more than once, if a pitcher wasn’t able to follow it the first time — takes longer than just calling a pitch, resulting in less dead time.
This is a rare instance of MLB adopting something that is productive, reasonable, and it seems no one opposes. While the technology is voluntary, I expect that over the course of the season we see most pitchers using this.