What is hell? No one can truly say, but it may involve watching the 2017 Tampa Bay Rays, whose pitchers waste more time than any other team’s. How bad is it? Matt Andriese, Chris Archer, and Alex Cobb, who rank as the three slowest starters in the majors, are averaging 28.2, 26.7, and 26.6 seconds, respectively, between pitches. Overall, according to Fangraphs, the Rays spend 25.8 seconds between pitches on average—over half a second more than the next-slowest team.
This adds up to a lot of time spent not throwing pitches. Per Fangraphs, the average time between pitches among qualified starting pitchers is 23.1 seconds. Across a scale of 100 pitches per outing, that means fans are watching Andriese stand on the mound doing pretty much nothing for eight and a half minutes relative to the average starting pitcher, and more than 15 minutes relative to a quick-working one like R.A. Dickey. That’s a long, long time to dedicate to the endeavor.
Here’s Andriese hanging out on the mound between pitches on Saturday:
Archer on Sunday:
And Cobb last Wednesday:
The slow pace sucks for fans. (“I can deal with bad baseball, but I can’t deal with bad, slow baseball,” said Deadspin’s resident Rays fan, Tim Burke.) These three should all be ashamed of themselves. Still, there’s a reason why they do it—this sucks for opposing batters, as well as fans—which is why they and their fellow evil-doers probably won’t stop unless they’re forced to.
Commissioner Rob Manfred claims he wants to. He’s made pace of play his Big Agenda during his time at the helm, and probably nears cardiac arrest every time he tunes into a Rays game for some godforsaken reason. Manfred is clearly thinking more and more about bringing pitch clocks, which are now set at 20 seconds in the minor leagues, to the majors. I’m not entirely sold on a 20-second limit—pitchers and catchers need time to run through their approach, depending on the situation—but watch the videos above and tell me you wouldn’t think about doing away with baseball’s famous claim to being the only sport without a clock if you were in charge.