Pace of Play: Four Pitcher Limit

Photo Credit: Patrick Semansky, Associated Press

by: Justin Jones @jjones217

Around the topic of the pace of play in baseball, there are a lot of discussions of how to fix it. We know something is going to be done about it but the question is what? 

There are talks of pitch clocks, lower number of innings, getting rid of the defensive shift, and limiting the number of pitching changes allowed in a game.

Limiting the number of pitchers that pitch in a game has some pros and cons I will look at today.

This is a concept I read about from Buster Olney of ESPN. He discusses that the overuse of the bullpen during the game makes it longer. The MLB has slowly been creeping up in the last 10 years from 3.93 pitchers per game to 4.25 pitchers per game. Olney also mentions concessions for injuries and blowouts being able to go beyond this. This would also limit to four pitchers per nine innings.


I do believe this would help speed up the game. By playing the matchups it does give you an advantage, but it slows the game down. We wait between innings then later in the game we wait for the pitcher to change sometimes two or three times an inning. It would help keep fans interested which is what the MLB needs - not necessarily the individual team's needs.


This would take part of the game away from managers. They would be losing the ability to play the matchups as closely. It would also stop the way the bullpen has evolved in the past few years. Managers should be able to use their whole bench. One could make the argument that if you did this you should just cut the roster size.

Final Thoughts

As much as I hate it I know rule changes are coming to fix the pace of play. This is a rule I can understand because pitching changes do slow down the game.

I think that instead of a pitcher limit though there should be mid-inning pitch change limit. This would let the manager change pitchers at the beginning of an inning without affecting the pace of the game or count against a teams pitching changes. This would allow teams to still use as many pitchers as they want but change when they could change pitchers.

Let us know what you think. Do you think this rule would help the pace of play? What would you do to help speed up the game? Comment below or reach out to us on social media.

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