“We just have to figure that out.” Dodgers to deal with Angels pitch clock implications

With the bases loaded, two outs, the bottom of the ninth inning, the home team down by one run, a full count for the batter to take a deep breath and gather himself as the pitch clock ticks down to nine seconds. eight seconds, seven seconds…

Three strikes! Finish the game!

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts didn’t hesitate when asked this week how he likes baseball’s new pitch clock, which requires pitchers to start their pitches with the bases empty and 20 seconds left with a runner on and batters set after 15 seconds. and looking at the pitcher with eight seconds left on the clock.

“I love it,” Roberts enthused. “I think the players are adjusting to it, but the pace of the game, the timing of the game … all of that will leave you wanting more the next day, and I think that’s a good thing.”

But Roberts might not be praising the pitch clock in late September if an automatic strike ends a Dodgers loss that has ramifications in the National League West race.

“It’s going to be more frustrating in a big time when (a pitch clock) is in the offense,” Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw said. “You don’t want a playoff game, with big important games in between, decided like that. We don’t want to decide a game. But I don’t think we’re going to get any grace, so we have to figure it out.”

If the umpires made one thing clear in the month-long demonstrations leading up to Thursday’s opening day, it’s that pitch clock rules will be strictly enforced.

There have been tweaks since the start of the spring, giving players extra time for malfunctioning PitchCom units to return hits to the frame after pitches or big swings that dislodge equipment and pitchers to return to the mound. cover first or protect a base.

But once the clock starts, and a pitcher has used both of his “disengagements” at once, and a batter has used his one timeout for each plate appearance, he cannot be stopped, no matter how big the inning, the score or the pressure. the situation

“I think it’s the hitters who have slowed down the pace of the game. In those bigger moments they want to slow things down, control the pace, the beats, and that’s why the game stops. But you won’t have that luxury anymore.”

– Dave Roberts, Dodgers manager

“I think you’ve got to refocus a little quicker,” Dodgers utility man Chris Taylor said. “In the past, you would kind of take a step back, take a few breaths to slow things down and get back to it. You can’t really do that. So maybe take a breather, get back in the box and be ready.’

Although there are plenty of pitchers who are notoriously slow — Angels ace Shohei Ohtani and former Dodgers relievers Kenley Jansen and Pedro Baez come to mind — Roberts believes the pitch clock will require more adjustments from hitters, not pitchers.

“Most pitchers like to work fast,” Roberts said. “There are outsiders, guys who work very slowly, but in my opinion, it’s the hitters who have slowed down the pace of the game. In those bigger moments they want to slow things down, control the pace, the beats, and that’s why the game stops. But you won’t have that luxury anymore.”

Clayton Kershaw pitches against the Angels in an exhibition Sunday at Dodger Stadium. The game, which the Dodgers won 3-0, lasted 2 hours and 8 minutes.

(Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

The pitch clock is working, and has shaved about 25 minutes off game time this spring. It took just 2 hours and 8 minutes of the Dodgers’ 3-0 win over the Angels at Chavez Ravine on Sunday night, after which Kershaw said, “Hopefully they sell enough beer.”

The Angels had 20 hits, including four homers and 18 strikeouts in a 5-4 win over the Dodgers in Anaheim on Monday night, and it still only took 2 hours and 36 minutes.

“I think it’s going pretty smooth,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “We started in the spring with a lot of violations, people don’t understand, but I think it’s already becoming the norm. I think it’s good to keep the pace of our game.”

Pace of play rules aren’t limited to the pitch clock. The replay rules have also changed. Managers must immediately raise their hands to indicate to the judges that they are considering a challenge, and will have only 15 seconds from that point to notify the team leader that they wish to review a play.

Managers previously had 10 seconds to signal to the umps that they were considering a challenge and 20 seconds from that point to decide whether to call the play.

“The mechanics of it … we have to make a decision sooner,” Roberts said. “We don’t have a 10-second grace period to decide whether or not we’re going to challenge that.”

The tighter window will put pressure on playback specialists to find the best camera angle, making decisions faster than in years past.

The home umpires, who communicate with the on-field timing coordinators via a headset and microphone in the press box, will add 15 seconds to each of the four pitch clocks — one for each booth, two beyond the center field wall — to time the replay reviews. .

This was a relief to Roberts, who initially thought another clock could be added.

“You know what?” Roberts said, “We have a lot of clocks around now.”

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