MLB and the MLBPA announced a set of new rules today, most of which had been credibly reported on last week.
The most notable changes are the automatic intentional walk and time limits being put on managers and replay crews to speed up replay. (Managers now have 30 seconds to invoke a challenge, and replay officials have to make a decision within two minutes, with allowance for exceptions.)
One interesting inclusion beyond the pace of play initiatives is an amendment to the pitching rules that stipulates that pitchers can’t take more than one step toward home plate in his delivery, because duh. If the pitcher violates this rule with runners on base, it will be called a balk; if there are no men on, it’ll be called as an illegal pitch, resulting in it being called a ball.
This rule clarification takes aim specifically at San Diego Padres reliever Carter Capps, whose delivery features a hop toward the plate with a dragged foot, but often turns into a double hop toward the plate. Unfortunately for Capps, the Padres’ own Twitter account showed a delivery where his foot was off the ground for the second hop.
When Capps debuted the delivery with the Miami Marlins in 2015, MLB reviewed his delivery and found it to be legal under existing pitching rules, as long as he dragged his foot after the hop instead of picking it up from the ground.
Capps told reporters today he’s “corrected” his delivery since the Padres posted that video.
Realistically, Capps—who’s returning from Tommy John surgery that made him miss the entire 2016 season, and expected to be a crucial member of the San Diego bullpen this season—will continue to use this delivery, and umpires will be left to subjectively determine whether or not his back foot is coming off the ground (yes) and whether or not they want to actually do anything about it (we’ll see).