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How MLB coaches, pitchers, and hitters adapt a new starting-limit strategy

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After three years managing the Triple-A Durham Bulls—to a cumulative record . 589 and back-to-back triple national championships in 2021 and 22—Brady Williams is receiving an invitation to the seniors this season. He will serve as the famous wit’s third base coach Tampa Bay Rayswith whom his knowledge of the emerging players in the organization will help him in deciding whether or not to send a youngster.

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It also brings valuable experience with some Rule changes are set to go into effect at the major league level this season. Williams had seen the bigger bases, and sweated nervously through the pressure-packed and even pitch timer Calculated with automated effects (which is at least a year of sneaking into the majors). The intent of all this – with Restrictions on defensive positions Tested on fewer levels – is to create a more dynamic game that brings more action in less time.

Williams has his own views on how effective the rules are in achieving this vision – he’s emailed the league to explain that umpires calling balls or strikes for clock violations were bad for speed of play and to suggest a different penalty system – but he understands that the game is now about adapting to this The new reality. And for that, he has some tips as teams prepare for spring training that will be spent on speed.

“For any coach, you have to coach better, honestly,” he told Yahoo Sports.. “You have to educate your players and hopefully make them more substantial with a few things because the catcher and pitcher can’t count on the coach to call the pickup.”

He was referring to a subsection of the stadium timer that could have more strategic implications than the clock itself. When the timer was introduced on a trial basis in the minor leagues, it became clear that if pitchers could restart the clock by stepping down the rubber—to throw to first base, for example—they would render the entire organization moot by doing so with a pitch.

And so, along with limiting the amount of time allotted to pitchers—in the majors this year, it’ll be 15 seconds between pitches with the bases empty and 20 seconds with the runner running—the rules also limit the number of times a pitcher can step out of a rubber. One “uncoupling”, i.e. two catch attempts, will be allowed per pat. If the third catch attempt is unsuccessful, the runner is awarded second base.

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MLB pitchers will have to adjust this season to a new limit on the number of catch attempts allowed per batter.  (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

MLB pitchers will have to adjust this season to a new limit on the number of catch attempts allowed per batter. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Following Williams’ advice, several major league managers opined at the December Winter Meetings that this rule in particular required their attention while rethinking the running game and preparing pitchers so that they would not be taken advantage of.

Brewers captain Craig Counsell said, “It’s up to us as managers, to help them run it and be better at it. There’s probably more strategy involved in it.”

Counsell said righteousness They started talking to pitchers last season about how to keep runners without unlimited break-in periods arsenal. “Because it’s one of those things where it’s not important, it’s not important, and then someday we’ll find out it does.”

Pitching coaches talk about the time involved in pitching, from the set to serving the pitch. Anything over 1.4 seconds is a stolen base charge, but that becomes very predictable in how long you hold the ball.

said Rob Wooten, Presentation Coach Cincinnati Redssystem, at Double-A last year and Single-A next season. “But now there are just some rules in place that can make this a little bit more interesting.”

Stolen bases bounced back slightly In the major leagues last season, however, teams were stealing only 0.51 bases per game, a success rate of nearly 75%. For the minors, tee rules, larger rules and the stadium timer itself—runners were “running out of the clock,” as Williams put it, or jumping in just before it ran out—combined to see the difference. Steal 1.1 bases per game, 77% success rate.

in 2019 after Lucas Giolito He transformed himself from one of the game’s worst rookies into an ace, and explained some of the mistakes that happened to him in 2018. “Every time someone went first, he was pretty much standing second,” he said. he told NBC Sports Chicago. “I was slow to tackle, I wasn’t changing my times, and I wasn’t changing my looks.”

These skills—quick but unpredictable delivery—will be most important to pitchers in an environment more suited to running.

“It changes your look even more,” said Williams. “Talk about it daily with the pitcher, about how important it is not to rush but make sure you’re in control there. Know who’s on first base—will he run? Know how many steps you have. Know how important the situation is because it’s going to change over the course of the game.”

With larger bases, limited shooting runs, and a pitch timer, MLB hopes to increase the incentive for base players to attempt steals in 2023 (Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)With larger bases, limited shooting runs, and a pitch timer, MLB hopes to increase the incentive for base players to attempt steals in 2023 (Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With larger bases, limited shooting runs, and a pitch timer, MLB hopes to increase the incentive for base players to attempt steals in 2023 (Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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If all of this sounds like a lot for shooters to deal with, well, it kind of is.

“Once the pitchers slowed the game down, it became easier for them,” Williams said. “But early? It was hard early on.”

As a manager, he would advocate only one catch attempt per pate.

“Because I didn’t want to catch twice and put my throw in harm’s way,” said Williams. “Meaning, if you connect with two pieces, the pitcher is not allowed to out. So if he can’t get the mark or he’s having trouble breathing or he’s just anxious, he can’t even do it.”

In an effort to capitalize on this upset to his team’s advantage, Williams told his baserunners to steal immediately after the first pitch, assuming that opposing coaches would be reluctant to call back-to-back breakout attempts.

Which is exactly when Wooten realized his shooters had to be aggressive with Third catching attempt.

“My thought process was on the hook: If he’s a base stealer and we’ve already thrown in there twice, he’ll get a good jump. So let’s see if we can’t cheat him and throw again,” he said. “If he gets back in the bag, so what? We give him second base. If we make him try to be too nice that third time, he’s out.”

In other words, let the lack of residual disengagement lull the contestants into a false sense of security. If they think the pitcher is unwilling to risk another pitch, they may be a little more reckless and let themselves be exposed to a successful hit.

We haven’t done that enough, I will say, Wooten said. “Not once last year did we throw on a third attempt and be called a failure. Every time we did, and it wasn’t often, it was out.”

Deciding when and how to use catch attempts will be a new challenge for coaches and pitchers this season.  (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)Deciding when and how to use catch attempts will be a new challenge for coaches and pitchers this season.  (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Deciding when and how to use catch attempts will be a new challenge for coaches and pitchers this season. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

This is the new game within the game. I’ve carefully considered all rule changes for their intended effects, but perhaps more importantly, they also force adaptation. The most successful teams will anticipate and exploit how their opponents will adapt, and use their experience to put opponents in the circumstances that make their players the most annoying.

For example, Wooten realized that batters also felt the pressure of a ticking clock and could force a reset by calling a timeout only once per bat.

“Hitters don’t like standing in the penalty area while the pitcher stares at them as he catches the ball, especially when he comes into place,” he said. “So if a hitter calls time out, we’ll take that bad boy for a second and make him stand there. You just have to take that stuff and figure out a way to turn it into a positive and use it to your advantage.”

The minor league coaches said the number of clock violations and general disruption of the new rules decreased over the course of the season. MLB depends on it; They want a faster game with more action on base lanes, something akin to old-fashioned baseball, not an increasingly esoteric regulation show. Guys will adapt because they have to.

“I look at it like this: the pitching is so good now that our game is trying to figure out how to create more offense, more chaos,” Wooten said. So the shooters just have to say, ‘Well, that’s how good we are. We will adjust this plan as well, and we will continue to do so.

“That’s the message we’ve tried to send to our players, at least.”

Follow Yahoo Sports’ Hannah Keyser on Twitter @Hannah R Keyser.

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