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Shift ban, pitch clock among changes for MLB in 2023

MLB’s Competition Committee voted to approve several significant rule changes for the 2023 season

MLB: MAR 08 Spring Training - Dodgers at Rangers Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Major League Baseball Competition Committee has passed several significant rule changes that will be implemented for the 2023 season, it was announced today. Jeff Passan has a story you can check out on the changes.

Pitch clocks, which have been used in the minor leagues for some time, and which have been credited with significantly shortening game times without impacting the actual play, will be in place for 2023. Pitchers have 20 seconds to be in a throwing motion with runners on base, 15 seconds with the bases empty, and have a limited number of opportunities to step off the rubber to reset the clock.

The shift will be banned in 2023, as well. That’s something that has been the subject of much heated debate, with some folks saying the defense should be able to align itself however it likes, while others argue it has had a negative impact on the aesthetics of the game. Under the new rule, all four infielders will have to be on the infield dirt (or closer to the plate), with two players on each side of the second base bag. Lefthanded pull hitters who hit the ball hard would seem likely to benefit from this, so maybe you should go trade for Corey Seager in your fantasy league now.

Pitchers will be limited to two pickoff attempts per plate appearance — if they try a third pickoff attempt and it is unsuccessful, it will be called a balk. The chances of Bubba Thompson being on the major league roster for 2023 just went up significantly.

Bases will be increased in size to 18 square inches, compared to 15 square inches now. The thinking is apparently that it will reduce collisions at the bases. It also would theoretically make it a little more likely a runner trying to advance to second or third — or trying to get back to first — will be safe, since they will be slightly closer to the bag.

Finally, if a team has used up all of its mound visits before the ninth inning, they will be granted an extra mound visit. If a team still has mound visits remaining, they don’t get an extra one, so I guess if you have just one left heading into the 8th, you’re going to want to go talk to the pitcher at some point during the inning.