MLB News: More New Pitching Tech Coming to Baseball
Last year, MLB introduced the PitchCom system, which allowed a catcher to press a button instead of putting down a series of finger signs to call a pitch. The pitcher, with a speaker in his cap above his ear, would audibly hear what pitch was being called. The system was designed to help speed up the game and to prevent teams from using illegal means to steal signs (not that any team would ever do that).
According to Ben Walker of the Associated Press, that system has been redesigned to allow the communication to go both ways.
Bases loaded, one out, full count and Justin Verlander knows exactly what pitch he wants to throw.
Starting this month, he can call it himself.
In yet another nod to new technology, Major League Baseball will permit pitchers in spring training to wear wristbands that will let them signal to the catcher what’s coming next.
The system will be tested in spring training games, and MLB will evaluate the process and decide whether to approve it for regular-season games.
It’s unknown how often pitchers would go with this system. Assuming it’s not all-or-nothing, so the catcher could call most of the game but the pitcher would have the option of calling a specific pitch, it could become pretty popular. Part of a catcher’s job is to study the opposing lineup and know how to call the game, and while pitchers study, too, it’s doubtful any pitcher would choose to call the entire game himself.
One practical reason for using PitchCom in reverse like this would be crowd noise. The pitcher’s transponder is in his cap, and when a stadium is loud we’ve often seen pitchers struggle to hear it well. The catcher has an actual earpiece, so in a loud stadium it might make more sense for the pitcher to call the signs, as the catcher would presumably be able to hear it better.
We’ll see this new tech in action when spring training games start on February 24, and if all goes well, we’ll continue to see it when the regular season starts.
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