Faster, more exciting baseball coming to Coors Field Thursday


Image via Owen Lystrup on Unsplash

The Colorado Rockies will play their first home game of the 2023 season at Coors Field on Thursday, April 6 against the Washington Nationals. New rules by Major League Baseball are expected to make the games faster and more action-packed. Image by Owen Lystrup via Unsplash.

Baseball will be back in the Mile High City on Thursday, but it may differ from what you are used to.

Major League Baseball made significant rule changes this off-season to improve their game from a spectator’s point of view. Shorter games with more action are the mission of these changes, so if baseball is “too boring or too long,” now may be your time to reconsider. Here’s an overview of the new rules.

Defensive Shift

Baseball has become extremely analytical in the past few decades. When the numbers said a player struggled to hit the ball in one direction, teams loaded the hitter’s strong side of the field with defensive players eliminating hits that would traditionally avoid a defender. The new rule states all four defensive infielders must have their feet on the infield dirt with two players on each side of the second base when the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. This is already leading to more hits.

According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, “Batting average through the first 50 games of 2023 is up .15 points from the first 50 games of the 2022 season.”

Banning the defensive shift has proven successful the last two seasons while testing in the Minor Leagues, and now more offensive action is coming to Coors Field.

Pitching Clock

Every team has at least one relief pitcher who comes into the game, and that’s when you know you’re in for a long inning. A pitcher can no longer take his sweet time between each pitch and try endlessly to pick off a runner he is worried about because MLB implemented a pitch clock this year to eliminate wasting time.

Pitchers will have 15 seconds to pitch the ball when no runners are on base and 20 seconds to pitch the ball with runners on base. Hitters must be in the batter’s box with eight seconds left on the pitch clock. A violation of the pitch clock will reward the other team; if a pitcher violates the clock, the batter will be charged with a ball, and if a hitter violates the clock, he will be charged with a strike.

Passan wrote about how this rule affected games in spring training before the season started on March 20: “The average spring training game time has fallen from 3 hours, 1 minute to 2 hours, 36 minutes.”

Fans can now watch a weeknight game at Coors Field without worrying about the game running too late. Long grueling games are a thing of the past; unless, of course, the game goes into extra innings.

Bigger Bases/Pitching Disengagements

The last two rule changes’ mission is to bring back a lost art of baseball: the stolen base. MLB increased the size of the base from 15 inches to 18 inches, shortening the distance between bases by 4.5 inches, and limiting the number of times a pitcher may disengage from the pitching rubber (either to try to pick off baserunners or to take a moment to collect themselves) to two.

Traditionally when a pitcher is worried about a runner stealing a base, he may throw over to the runner multiple times to keep him close. With a limit of two throws over, a runner has a better chance to read the pitcher and steal a base.

Passan shared the numbers to prove stealing bases is back, “Through the first 50 games of the 2023 season, MLB teams are 70-84 (83.3%) stealing bases. Opposed to 29-43 (67.4%) through the first 50 games of the 2022 season.”

Teams are stealing more often with more success, creating excitement on the base paths.

The Colorado Rockies’ first home game is Thursday, April 6 at 2:10 p.m. at Coors Field against the Washington Nationals. Thomas Jefferson High School alumni Kyle Freeland will be the starting pitcher for the Rockies.