NBC Sports

New MLB rules already making huge impact on Giants games

NBC Sports

It got completely overshadowed because it came during the same series that included an unwritten rules controversy and a disagreement between coaches, but when the Giants and San Diego Padres finished off a series at Oracle Park last April, the game went just two hours and 11 minutes.

Logan Webb zoomed through a career-high eight innings, allowing just four hits. On the other side, future teammate Sean Manaea pitched six strong innings. The Giants won 2-1 in a game that included just nine hits, no errors and four total pitchers.

It was -- by nine minutes -- the fastest game of the 2022 MLB season for the Giants. But given the way the pace has picked up this spring, they should clear that mark pretty easily several times this season. 

The Giants have played 11 games with the new rules and already have seen a clear difference in pace of play. They're averaging two hours, 36 minutes this spring, a difference of more than half an hour from the 2022 regular season, when they averaged three hours and eight minutes per game, two minutes longer than the MLB average. 

There are caveats, of course. Teams usually don't play extra innings in the spring, although given that the runner-on-second rule limits the length of games in the regular season, that shouldn't make too much of a difference.

 

Umpires also are being more strict than they're expected to be once the season starts, so there may be more leeway over 162 games, with a couple minutes added every night. These early spring games also include plenty of minor leaguers who got used to the pace last year, so perhaps it's no surprise that the Giants and others have hit the ground running. 

Regardless, you can see the difference, and early in camp, manager Gabe Kapler was excited about it

"It's nice, the pace is nice," he said after the spring opener. "I think it's going to be a really good rule for Major League Baseball. It's going to make things faster, more enjoyable for the fans, and just a better brand in my opinion."

The Giants haven't had any notable game-changing issues through 11 games with the clock, although right-hander Alex Cobb felt rushed his first time out, which included his first experiment with using PitchCom to call his own pitches. In his second outing, Cobb struck out six in three innings while using a more traditional method with catcher Roberto Perez. The Giants lost 5-1 in a game that lasted just two hours, 13 minutes. 

Sunday's game was the second time this spring the Giants have played in 2:13. They had just two games last year that lasted less than 2:30, with only one -- the Webb-Manaea showdown -- going under 2:20. 

RELATED: LaMonte Wade Jr. ready to take over at first base

Of their 11 spring games, eight have come in under 2:45. Last year, just 17 of 162 games were that short. The pace is expected to slow when the intensity ramps up during the regular season, but the Giants might never again approach some of the drawn-out baseball that was seen last season, which included a 7-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in nine innings that lasted 3:53.

It has been a huge adjustment for players this spring and will be for fans once the Giants return to San Francisco, but it shouldn't look too out of place. The biggest Bay Area sporting event of the weekend was the Warriors' game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The time of that game? Two hours, 23 minutes.

Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast