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How MLB’s rule changes affect the Dodgers

Bigger bases, faster pitching, and a ban on the shift could all impact the way the Dodgers play this season.

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers Workouts Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Most of MLB’s recent rule changes are geared towards creating a more action-packed game. Who stands to benefit the most on the Dodgers? Who’s going to need to make some adjustments? Here’s a quick breakdown of how the 40-man roster might be impacted by the updates.

Shift Ban

With the ban on the shift, we’re likely going to see two things: fewer bunts to third, and better batting averages for lefties. According to ESPN, left-handed hitters in minor-league levels that don’t shift saw an eight-point increase in their batting averages. The lefties on the Dodgers’ 40-man at press time, and their batting averages in 2022, are:

  • Freddie Freeman (.325)
  • Gavin Lux (.276)
  • Max Muncy (.198)
  • David Peralta (.251)
  • Jorbit Vivas (.269 in the minors)
  • Michael Busch (.286 in the minors)
  • James Outman (.293 in the minors)

On the defensive side, infielders are allowed to begin moving after pitchers have released the ball, so expect some false starts — and penalties — while everyone gets their timing down.

Pitch Clock

Pitchers now have 15 seconds to start their throws with no one on base and 20 seconds with runners on. Alex Vesia, who averaged 24.6 seconds between pitches last season, has some work to do. He’ll need to shave off about five to 10 seconds per pitch and keep an eye on his between-batters routine to avoid any penalties.

“I think the biggest concern is being able to do my routine — go behind the mound, rub the ball and kind of reset myself and go,” he told Dodgers Nation at FanFest this year. “If it has to be a little bit quicker, that’s ok. I’m not worried about it.”

Fewer Pickoffs, Bigger Bases

Combining these two rule changes is going to leave the door wide open for more steals, and that’s good news for speedsters everywhere. While Trea Turner is taking his theatrics elsewhere, the Dodgers aren’t completely left out. Gavin Lux has a sprint speed of 29 feet per second, according to Stacker, and can make it down to first base in about 4.17 seconds, making him the 28th fastest runner in the majors. Chris Taylor (28.3 feet/second) and Will Smith (27.3 feet/second) could also up their steal count this year.

While not the fastest on the team, Freddie Freeman tops the list of current Dodgers with the most steals at 13 in 2022, followed by Mookie Betts with 12 and Taylor with 10. Turner, of course, blew them all away with 27 total.

Position Players Pitching

Hanser Alberto isn’t a Dodger any more, and he might not need to be replaced as the team’s resident position player pitcher. In previous seasons, managers could bring in a non-pitcher if their team was either leading or trailing by six runs. Now, leading teams must be up by 10 runs in the ninth, and trailing teams must be down by eight or more at any time. That takes the Dodgers’ opportunities to send a position player to the mound down from 30 in 2022 to five under the new rule.