Dodgers had first baseman James Loney ready to pitch

7 Comments

James Loney hasn’t hit this season, so yesterday the Dodgers figured maybe he could help them as a pitcher.

With the bullpen on fumes thanks to Saturday night’s 13-inning loss to the Rockies at Coors Field, manager Don Mattingly had Loney warm up in the bullpen before yesterday’s game in case he was needed as an emergency pitcher.

Mattingly ended up not needing Loney because he instead let Chad Billingsley throw 118 pitches while giving up three late runs in a loss, but Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times notes that many teams wanted to draft Loney as a pitcher in 2002 and … well, his .344 slugging percentage would be less out of place among pitchers than it is among first basemen.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

mlb
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
1 Comment

NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.