Players open to ‘middle ground’ with potential for launch clock as early as next season – Baltimore Sun

After his impressive major league debut, Orioles right-hander Kyle Bradish said that while he was nervous, he didn’t feel blown away by the scene.

“At the end of the day, it’s the same game I played,” he said.

But that’s not entirely true. The height clock tested in the upper minors has yet to make it to the majors, which means Bradish, the top of four pitching prospects the Orioles acquired from the Los Angeles Angels for Dylan Bundy in 2019, could take as long as he needed between throws. Friday as he allowed two earned runs in six innings.

The clock, however, didn’t seem to affect him much in Triple-A. In two starts with the clock on — 14 seconds without anyone, 18 seconds with any base runner — Bradish allowed two earned runs in 11 innings. In fact, he said he felt the clock was a bigger issue for batters, who risked being given an automatic strike if they weren’t in the box with nine seconds left. Pitchers must begin their move before time runs out to avoid a ball being added to the count. Early results revealed that average playing times were reduced by around 20 minutes and some nine-inning games were played in less than two hours, with little action wasted as time out between pitches was removed.

“I haven’t really had a problem with it, just because I like to work fast,” Bradish said. “But I could tell that the hitters, the opponent and our hitters, were having trouble with that because they have to be in the box after, like, five seconds, so they don’t really have time to decompress on that. which just happened. and think about what will happen next.

“It was good because some hitters like to take their time when I’m ready to go, so I gave them a little nudge to get into the box.”

Right-hander Chris Ellis, who started the season with Norfolk and is now on the major league disabled list, made his only Tides start this year before the clock was up, as part of a period control designed for comparison purposes. He said that when the clock was introduced Norfolk’s coaching staff explained the rules to the players.

“I think a lot of guys were like, ‘Yeah, whatever,'” Ellis said. “And then they imposed it, and everyone was like, ‘Man, what the hell are you doing? “”

Conversely, Tyler Nevin, recalled from Triple-A with Bradish on Friday after posting a .980 OPS in Norfolk said he finds the system somewhat unfair to pitchers, given that dismissing two pitching signs from the catcher could be enough to burn time. As a hitter, however, he said he had few problems with it.

“It kinda sucks when you have to run from left field to the first base dugout, but it’s not too bad,” Nevin said. “I think that’s where we’re headed so you have to deal with it, but I don’t think that’s a huge negative. I think once we’ve worked out all the issues it can be a huge plus for the viewing experience.

For Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, this would be the most important aspect of these changes reaching the major leagues, a possibility as soon as next season with Major League Baseball having the ability to impose further changes on 45 minutes notice. days as part of the new collective. negotiation agreement.

“I think it’s important from a fan experience,” Hyde said. “The beauty of baseball is that there’s no clock, in that there’s no endgame except when the ninth inning is over. But at the same time, for me, we could do a better job of those nine innings to be able to get him going a little faster, and I think the fans would appreciate that.

Right-handed starter Jordan Lyles, by far the most experienced member of the Orioles’ pitching squad, said he would appreciate a pitching clock for the sake of the fans, noting there are relievers who get three outs. consecutive but take 20 minutes to do so. . He worries, however, about the impact it could have if pitchers rush in, throwing a pitch they weren’t confident in a big spot.

“I understand the reasoning and the desire to improve, but if it’s about affecting the mentality of guys because they don’t want to take too long and they just do whatever, just to beat a clock, I don’t think it should be that way,” Lyles said. “We showed up on the court to win this game. a happy medium that you wanted everything to go faster, but also that you didn’t want to risk doing the wrong thing.

Lyles noted that the introduction of PitchCom, a system where receivers use an armband to relay signs to pitchers and a handful of defenders with earbuds, has helped speed up situations with second-position runners, where receivers have used more complicated sign sequences to restrain the opponent. base runner to relay whatever comes to the batter.

But that system isn’t fully utilized in the minor leagues, with Ellis saying situations with a runner can still go on forever.

“In the minor leagues, when you have guys on second base and they go through sign sets and everything, it’s like, ‘Oh [crap]”” Ellis said. “In my head, I’m like, ‘I have four seconds left, three seconds.’

“There is this internal clock.”

From 2023, there will be a real one in the majors.

It will be a week of “What if?” at Camden Yards.

Starting Monday, shortstop Carlos Correa and the Minnesota Twins are in Baltimore for a four-game series, which Bradish will start against Bundy on Wednesday. The Orioles’ degree of involvement in Correa’s free agency is unclear, with the superstar infielder eventually signing a three-year, $105.3 million deal with the Twins that includes opt-out options. after each of the first two seasons. But many fans have allowed themselves to dream that the first big move in Orioles reconstruction would be to sign Correa, whose executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias played a big role in the Houston Astros’ first draft in 2012. .

A deceased Elias player with a No. 1 pick next comes to Oriole Park as a visitor over the weekend, with infielder Bobby Witt Jr. and the Kansas City Royals playing a three-game starting set. of Friday. In 2019, the Orioles fortunately selected receiver Adley Rutschman first overall, leaving Witt to the Kansas City Royals with the second pick. If not for Rutschman’s right triceps strain experienced on the eve of spring training, the two phenoms would be in the majors, and this might have been the first confrontation between them.

Ryan Mountcastle’s rocket blasted 423ft past the deeper, higher wall of Camden Yards in the ninth inning on Friday ended what had been an occasional talking point in the Baltimore clubhouse: no no who would be the first to hit a home run there, but “just if there was ever would be a first,” Mountcastle joked the next day.

“It’s one of the best balls I’ve ever hit,” Mountcastle said, “and it was about three rows deep.”

The difficulty of reaching, let alone clearing, the wall showed the rest of the weekend. Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts and Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander both hit fly balls that would have been out in previous seasons, with Bogaerts becoming the first hitter to see a potential homer go out on Friday and Santander ahead. settle for a sacrifice flight instead of a grand slam on Sunday.

Orioles infielders Chris Owings and Jorge Mateo may also have joined this group, though Statcast readings have been less clear on what their fly ball results would have been with the old dimensions. Still, Owings’ ball that had an expected .080 batting average would have been worth holding your breath for heading into this season.

“I’m probably a little shocked here,” Hyde said recently, “but every time a ball went through the air to left field in the last few years, I felt like it was a chance to do a circuit, and now I don’t feel like that.

Owings could have used this circuit. He finished the week without a hit in six at bats, batting three times. For the year, he’s 2 for 18 with three walks against 12 strikeouts, entering Sunday with the highest strikeout rate of any major leaguer with at least 20 plate appearances.

The Orioles signed Owings, 30, to a minor league contract early in spring training to add experience to their infield. With rosters set to drop from 28 to 26 on Monday, there may be a lack of time to make an impression.

Rutschman’s arrival at High-A Aberdeen in rehab may have been the story of the week, but third baseman Coby Mayo stole the show. In Rutschman’s first game with the IronBirds, Mayo homered twice and then went deep the next two days as well. Mayo, a 20-year-old ranked by Baseball America as the Orioles’ No. 10 prospect, hits .558.

The show will have to go on without Rutschman, who will join Double-A Bowie this week with southpaw DL Hall to continue its progress.

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