Conor Harber of Acereros throws a pitch during the seventh game between Leones de Yucatan and Acereros de Monclova in the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol at Monclova Stadium on October 2, 2019 in Monclova, Mexico. This year, LMB pitchers will have to work on a 12-second pitch clock. (Photo by Jam Media/Getty Images)
By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
Mexico’s winter baseball league, the Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico, was one of the first professional baseball leagues to introduce a pitch clock to baseball, implementing the rule in 2020.
Fast forward three years, and Major League Baseball has implemented a pitch clock of its own, among a few other rule changes. Now, Mexico’s summer league, the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol, will also add a pitch clock in 2023. Before the LMB’s season kicks off on April 21, let’s take a look at the rule adjustments both players and coaches will need to grasp.
Liga Mexicana del Beisbol’s pitch clock will differ from the MLB. In 2023, pitchers will have only 12 seconds in-between pitches with no runners on base. The pace of play should decrease game times by a significant margin, similar to Major League Baseball. In 2022, the average nine-inning MLB game lasted three hours and three minutes. So far in 2023, the average nine-inning MLB game with a 15-second pitch clock lasts two hours and thirty eight minutes, a 25 minute difference. Pitchers in the LMB will need to work quickly on the mound to avoid an infraction.
A pitcher’s offense in the LMB will be identical to that of the MLB. Any pitcher who fails to begin his windup before the 12-second timer runs down to zero will be charged with a ball, in favor of the batter. If a batter steps out of the batter’s box, the pitcher will be awarded a strike.
Managers and pitching coaches in the LMB will have 30 seconds for mound visits in 2023. The days of stalling on the mound to give the relief pitcher extra time in the bullpen are likely over. Additionally, teams will have two minutes in-between innings to warm up.
Perhaps the most unique change for the LMB came in 2022. That change was the shortening of games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to seven-innings.
“We had more competitive games,” said LMB president Horacio de la Vega at SportBiz Latinoamerica, the Sports Business Congress of Latin America, in February 2023. “The average time was two hours and 46 minutes, compared to three hours and 26 minutes in nine innings.”
The addition of the 12 second pitch clock, and seven-inning games means contests will be over even faster on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Liga Mexicana de Beisbol may have adopted seven inning-games from the MLB, which was instituted in 2020, a shortened season due to the pandemic. However, the LMB was the first professional baseball league to implement seven-inning games for single-game contests.
Mark Weidemaier, former manager of Tecolotes Dos Laredos, which splits its home games between Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and Laredo, Texas, spoke highly of the change.
“It’s probably a good idea from the pitching standpoint,” Weidemaier told the Laredo Morning Times last year, when the league went to seven-inning games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. “In every league, there’s going to be guys getting hurt or there are guys going to Japan, Korea or affiliated baseball. So I think it’s a good thing. I think it will keep everyone fresher.”
Liga Mexicana de Beisbol will begin their season on Thursday, April 21. The new rule changes should make for an interesting product, and could help MLB determine whether their pitch clock rules are where they need to be, or if adjustments are necessary.