The LSU Tigers baseball season begins Friday with a three-game series against Western Michigan. But, before then, fans must become familiar with new rules for SEC baseball games.
The SEC wants baseball games to move faster and with more action in 2023. As a result, the conference announced rule changes designed to shorten games and maximize fan experience. Changes mainly apply to clock management, where the time allowed between pitches, hitter changes, and mound visits is significantly reduced. The days of hitters stepping out of the box to re-adjust their gloves and pads are over. Also gone are the slow periods of pitchers getting signals and then staring down runners for what feels like an eternity.
So, what’s the ‘so what’ of an expedited clock?
The most significant benefit to the batter and pitch clocks is that SEC baseball fans will likely experience more action
The most significant benefit to the batter and pitch clocks is that SEC baseball fans will likely experience more action. Historically, the action-less cat-and-mouse game between hitter and pitcher favored the pitcher. One must consider how crucial timing is to baseball hitters. Thus, the longer a pitcher can drag out a pitch, the more they create an advantage. However, the new SEC baseball rules aim to level the scenario.
In addition to eliminating the pitcher’s ability to slow down an at-bat, they must change out faster. New SEC baseball rules mandate relief pitchers take the mound and face a batter within 2:30 (2 minutes and 30 seconds). Lastly, the SEC is limiting mound visits to 30 seconds. A more detailed explanation of SEC baseball rule changes is as follows:
"Between Batter’s Clock: Hitters have 30 seconds from the conclusion of the previous hitter’s play to start their at-bat. Such includes being in the batter’s box and engaged with the pitcher 10 seconds before the batter’s clock expires. The intent is the batter’s clock aligns with the 30-second pitch clock that mandates the pitcher releases the ball before expiration.Mound Visit Clock: Coaches have 30 seconds to visit the pitcher when they exit the dugout. Also, position players visiting the pitcher have 30 seconds from when they leave their field spot.Pitching Change Clock: Relief pitchers have 2:30 (2 minutes and 30 seconds) to enter the game and complete their warmup. Such a rule applies when entering the game at the start or middle of an inning."
Lastly, SEC baseball rules now mandate conference games end after 7 innings if one team is ahead by 10 or more runs. LSU Tigers fans will see most of the SEC rules in action when conference play begins March 17th.