Most baseball fans probably still aren’t used to MLB’s new rules. Most fans probably miss the way the game was played in “the old days,” just one season ago.
Most fans also probably don’t realize that Cal Poly, along with most of NCAA baseball, was ahead of the curve —this is their second season with a pitch clock.
This is probably the reason why junior pitcher Bryce Warrecker doesn’t notice it as much as one might think, despite the fact that he’s literally dictated by it every time he toes the rubber. The reason why is simple: practice, practice and more practice.
“When we were playing inter-squads before the season, we would [have] the pitch clock on there,” Warrecker said. “Coach Lee’s done a good job of making sure all the pitchers and position players know exactly what we need to do.”
Warrecker said that it’s that practice which has helped him not worry about the pitch clock as much when he’s on the mound.
“In terms of preparation, [I’ve] been preparing before the season…so moving into my starts, it’s just not really in my mind,” Warrecker said.
This isn’t to say that he isn’t aware of the potential issues that could arise from the pitch clock — both for pitchers and hitters. In fact, the things he’s noticing are already poking holes in the clock’s intended purpose at the big league level: pace of play.
“I think pace of play has probably increased, [but] there’s been interesting times where we have to step off and maybe pick off to a base to reset the clock, which might be the opposite of speeding up the game at certain times,” Warrecker said.
The potential problems with the relatively new rules are also something that head coach Larry Lee is concerned with — and has been since they were first introduced prior to the start of the NCAA baseball season last year.
However, Lee is a bit more vocal about his concerns compared to his ace.
“When [the rules] first came out, they had the head coaches of the Big West and the umpiring supervisor on a Zoom,” Lee said. “Even just hearing the information for the first time…three different times within the presentation of these new rules, I said, ‘well what if this, this or this happens?’ And they didn’t have answers.”
However, while Lee does admit that both the NCAA and Major League Baseball are doing a much better job enforcing the rules – this is especially true in the Big Leagues, where so far, they are doing exactly what they were designed to with most games are now less than 2 1/2 hours – he still isn’t sure if he’s convinced that they’re going to work long-term.
“There’s always ways of getting around it,” Lee said. “But as long as it speeds up the game, great. I just want to make sure that it’s even for both batter and pitcher.”
Something Warrecker and his coach agree on wholeheartedly is that the competitiveness in the game is better and the clock is only going to help college players prepare for the pros.
“It’s a good thing for us to get used to, for those that want to play professional baseball moving forward. And again, it’s just going to be part of the game,” Warrecker said.
In fact, Warrecker has begun to notice tendencies by Major League pitchers that he could add to his own game at Cal Poly.
“I’ve seen guys like Max Scherzer who really want to take advantage of it and mess with guys’ timing,” Warrecker said. “I think that’s really competitive and a really cool part of the game being introduced that wasn’t there before. So for us to be a part of that too is a cool thing.”
Of course, there are still many questions about the pitch clock that don’t — and won’t— have an answer until much later in the season.
So for now, all that those within the game can do is continue to play, and hope that ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’ applies to the National Pastime as well.