Rob Manfred: MLB could limit number of pitchers in an inning

Courtesy of USA Today Images

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is on a warpath to speed up the game of baseball. The next step: Potentially limiting the number of relief pitchers allowed in one inning.

“I’ve got nothing against relief pitchers,” Manfred said, via the New York Daily News “but they do two things to the game: They slow the game down and our relievers have become so dominant at the back end that they actually rob action out of the end of the game.”

“We have to accept the game is changing, maybe faster than some of us would like,” he said. “Our job is how best to manage the change. My first priority is the dead time issue, especially late in the game, which we have started to address with changes such as limiting the instant replay time, waiving of the four-pitch intentional walk and (still being negotiated) limiting mound visits. After that, there may have to be a next round of changes which could affect the competition (like the limiting of relievers in one inning), some of which may not be realistic.”

Manfred acknowledges some changes that will be proposed may be unrealistic. If he really wants to speed up baseball, limiting the number of choices a manager can make isn’t a smart thing to do. If he wants to go on this warpath and fundamentally change baseball, he should go for the change with the most impact: a pitch clock.

An SBNation comparison between games in 1984 and 2014 showed that the time between pitches nearly doubled in 30 years. They found that there were 57 minutes and 41 seconds between pitches in the 2014 game.

That’s the number Manfred should be trying to cut down on, and he can do it without handicapping managers from a strategic perspective.