Post Content Cardinals News 

February 22nd, 2023

JUPITER, Fla. — When Cardinals reliever Giovanny Gallegos toed the rubber for his first live BP session of Spring Training on Wednesday, there was something other than a hitter and a catcher staring back at him.

Strategically placed a few feet back of catcher Iv?n Herrera was an oversized clock with a dying amount of time on it. There was no way for Gallegos to ignore the enormity of the clock — even if he trained his focus entirely on the strike zone in Wednesday’s 25-pitch session.

Changes to the MLB game are coming quickly, and Gallegos knows that he’ll need to pick up the pace this season following a 2022 campaign in which he was one of baseball’s slowest workers. According to Baseball Savant, Gallegos’ tempo — the median amount of time between pitches — was tied with Yankees reliever Jonathan Lo?isiga for last in slowest pace among pitchers when the bases were empty. With runners on, Gallegos’ tempo was quicker than only Red Sox reliever Kenley Jansen.

“It’s hard for me. It’s a new experience and a big challenge for me,” Gallegos said. “I am trying to make some adjustments about the timing, but it’s a big change.”

To try to eliminate some of the dead time during games, MLB instituted new rules that mandate that pitchers throw a pitch within 15 seconds of receiving the ball from the catcher when the bases are empty. When there are runners on, pitchers have 20 seconds to deliver a pitch after receiving the ball. Pitcher violations will result in a ball.

New rules also limit the number of pitcher disengagements from the rubber, such as pickoff throws and step-offs, to two per plate appearance. Violations result in a balk.

When those rules were applied during the 2022 Minor League season, game times were, on average, 25 minutes shorter, per MLB research. And with the restricted pickoff throws, stolen base attempts climbed 26 percent.

There are also new timing rules coming for hitters. They are limited to one timeout per plate appearance and must be in the batter’s box before the pitch timer reaches eight seconds. A violation of the rules is a strike.

Gallegos, who came up through the Yankees’ Minor League system, said he was considered a fast worker when he started more from 2012-15. His pace slowed when he transitioned into being a late-inning reliever.

“It’s not a matter of working slow but just taking my time,” he said. “I’m still working on the timing and making adjustments with the timer, and I feel great right now.”

Gallegos, acquired by the Cardinals in a 2018 trade, rescued the franchise in 2021 when he moved into the closer spot. Last season, Gallegos opened as the closer, but converted just 14 of 20 save opportunities and lost that job to Ryan Helsley. Still, Gallegos had a 3.05 ERA and 73 strikeouts over 59 innings.

Gallegos, 31, is confident that working quicker won’t minimize his effectiveness.

“I feel good, and there’s not too much of a difference,” said Gallegos. “I don’t have a lot of experience with [the pitch timer], so I don’t know a lot about it. But I’m still working on it, and I trust my stuff.”