Goodyear, Ariz. — Major League Baseball sent out a memo to teams in recent days with a new point, saying pitchers can’t set on the rubber unless the batter is engaged and alert in the box.
This was news for Corbin Burns.
The Milwaukee Brewers ace learned of the new rules from the league during the second inning of his debut against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark.
With a runner on first, Burns took a long catch after receiving a signal from catcher William Contreras, prompting Reds batter Will Benson to break out of the box on a 0–0 count.
The pitch clock reset to 20 seconds, but Burns did not move on the mound. He wanted to strike out at Benson as soon as possible, yet was warned by home plate umpire Dan Merzel that he could not hit the set until Benson was engaged.
Benson waited until the 12-second mark on the clock to do so. Burns, still engaged on the rubber but motionless, eventually set up and then ran the clock down to one second before firing a cutter outside for a ball.
What appeared to be a standoff between Burns and Benson was actually a player learning a new point of emphasis on the fly.
“I think that was changed a few days ago and I didn’t know about it,” Burns said.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell discussed the matter with Merzel after the inning.
“We just have to figure out what they’re seeing as a quick pitch,” Counsell said. “So we have to get an explanation.”
One of the game’s best pitchers, Burns expressed his displeasure with the league changing the way the pitch clock was implemented.
“The league will have to do something to finalize these rules,” Burns said. “Now that we are two weeks away from the start of the season, we are still changing the rules. It can’t happen. We have to rise above it. The umpires are still trying to learn the rules as they go.
“The idea was coming that everything was finalized and we had a month to figure everything out and as we go, there are still things we are changing. It has to stop It is something that we have finalized so that we can get comfortable with them in these last two weeks.
“I think a lot of the players knew it was going to happen because there were so many holes in all the rules that played the league.”
MLB’s New Enforcement Is In Response To New York Mets Starter Max Scherzer pushing the limits Quick pitching during his first spring start.
“After Scherzer did that, he waited a few days and then he sent some kind of explanation,” the counsel said.
An automatic ball was called during a plate appearance that ended in a walk-off during Friday’s game between the Dodgers and Angels.
“I think Scherzer exposed it, a lot of these people who are trying to mess with it, they’re exposing it and unfortunately now they’re making changes to it to try to eliminate some things.” Might try,” Burns said. “It just creates confusion and a lot of people and the umpires don’t really know what’s happening. It’s something that has to be cleared up.
Burns and Counsell each noted how the pitcher could be rushed, especially with a runner on base, if he could not be set until the eight-second mark.
“What happens then is the hitter doesn’t have to stay in the box for eight seconds and it takes a few seconds to set up. The pitcher’s really only got five seconds to pitch, making it easier for the people on base. The different times it creates, it eliminates a little bit of discomfort in the box, the person driving it shortens your time frame,” said Burns.
“This puts the hitter back in control after the timeout is used. Originally, the way the rule was written, you can’t pitch until the hitter is active. Sets coming until the hitter is engaged It had nothing to do with it and now that they’ve changed it, something needs to be adjusted with the pitch clock. There are a few wrinkles to figure out on that front, but it’s too quick to find out here.
Or as Counsel succinctly summarized: “It essentially limits the pitcher’s time on the rubber. It puts the pitcher in rush mode.”
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This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Brewers’ Corbin Berner wants MLB to stop changing pitch-clock rules