Rob Manfred: Mound visits way down, inning breaks much shorter

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said he is encouraged by pace-of-play changes that have limited mound visits and reduced the time between innings at major league games this season.

Speaking in Toronto on Tuesday before the Blue Jays hosted the Boston Red Sox, Manfred said the new rules have sped up games without any disruption. Mound visits without pitching changes averaged 3.79 per game through Sunday, down from 7.41 for the 2017 season.

“This has really been a unique April for us,” Manfred said. “We’ve set a record for the number of games that have been canceled and, probably more troublingly, we’ve played a lot of games in really tough weather. I think we have 12 cities that have been more than 10 degrees below their average temperature for the month of April.”

Still, Manfred said the solution isn’t as simple as scheduling early-season games in domes and warm-weather cities.

Richards outpitched Clayton Kershaw just months removed from working as a substitute elementary school teacher, and the Marlins took advantage of a wild outing from the Dodgers’ ace to beat Los Angeles 8-6 on Wednesday night.

Richards struck out 10 and pitched one-hit ball over 4 2/3 scoreless innings in his fifth major league start. The former independent league right-hander was pulled after throwing 100 pitches.

“We couldn’t figure him out,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

“I just focused on keeping the ball down and attacking the zone early, throwing strikes and looking ahead,” Richards said. “We were just, fastball-changeups a lot. Trying to keep them off balance.”

Richards’ offseason jobs have included teaching and working for the Miller-Coors brewery since going undrafted out of Drury University. He joined a Marlins’ Class A affiliate in 2016 after being noticed while pitching for Gateway of the independent Frontier League for two seasons. He spent this winter working at a school in his hometown of Aviston, Illinois, according to the Miami Herald.

“Trevor was really good today” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s really what we needed.”

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