Matt Moore plays catch, feels good

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Matt Moore may be looking at a mid-August return.

According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the lefty played catch from 70 feet on Tuesday and reported no issues. Moore was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 29 with soreness in his left elbow, but tests have ruled out structural damage and he could return to the mound for a bullpen session this weekend if the progress continues.

Moore had a 2.08 ERA and a 32/8 K/BB ratio in 34 2/3 innings (five starts) in July and the Rays are 16-5 in his starts this season. The 24-year-old southpaw can be truly dominant when all his stuff is working and his command is on.

Tampa Bay currently trails Boston by a half-game in the American League East.

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

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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%.