Major MLB Rule Change Makes Certain Players’ Patented Techniques Illegal

A photo from the 2022 World Series.


The MLB is making sweeping rules changes across the sport ahead of the 2023 season. The league is implementing adjustments to base size, shifts, pitch clocks, and more.

One change, in particular, will force some pitchers to change their form next year. MLB executive VP Morgan Sword says that umpires have “slipped a little bit” with calling illegal pitches and balks.”

Jeff Passan of ESPN commented on this update in a recent story as the MLB looks to put a stronger emphasis on these infractions.

The balk, which is intended to keep pitchers from deceiving runners on base, can be called by umpires for more than a dozen reasons. Balks are assessed only with runners on. Prohibited deliveries with the bases empty are deemed illegal pitches.

A number of pitchers, including Houston’s Luis Garcia, Toronto’s Kevin Gausman, Boston’s Kenley Jansen, and the Chicago White Sox’s Mike Clevinger, are expected to change their deliveries on account of the new rules.

Clock operators are supposed to turn off the pitch timer when a pitcher starts his delivery and, accordingly, umpires have been told that a pitcher is allowed one step to the back or side before moving toward the plate to throw… Out of the set position, the clock stops when a pitcher lifts his front leg.

Garcia and Clevinger, two of the starting pitching options in Passan’s story, boast windups that consist of significant rocking and multiple steps.

In the 2023 season, pitchers are “allowed one step to the back or side” before they make their motion towards the plate. It will force these starters to shorten their windups and remove some of the excess movement.

There are relievers that will be forced to make adjustments, too, as noted by Passan with Kenley Jansen. Any jerky or twitchy movements from the stretch will also be grounds for a balk call.

Fans were quick to react to the restrictions that will soon be implemented. The response from baseball viewers is split.

One person wrote, “I mean…it’s a maddening delivery to watch but making it illegal is so lame.”

Another said, “Good – this is ridiculous.”

The MLB rules changes will hope to speed up the pace of play as the league looks to shorten games and keep the action rolling. The emphasis on the balk rule will have close ties to the newly introduced pitch clock, as well, as pitchers will have limited time to begin their deliveries to the plate.

Baseball will look a bit different in the upcoming season. We’ll see how these pitchers adjust.

Jacob Elsey
BroBible writer. Jacob is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and is based in Charleston, SC.