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Baseball is back. The 2024 MLB season kicks off in earnest with Opening Day on Thursday. As fans adjust to seeing new players on new teams, like Juan Soto in Yankees pinstripes or Shohei Ohtani in Dodger blue, they will also be have to learn a few new rules in 2024.

No, there are not as many rule changes in 2024 as there were in the 2023 MLB season, when the league introduced a pitch clock, widened the bases and limited defensive shifts. All those rules are still in place for 2024, though there is a tweak to how the league will use the pitch clock. 

MLB also has new rules on the basepaths and for mound visits. Let's dive into the nitty-gritty of the newest sections of the rulebook.

Pitch clock tweak

The pitch clock is back for its second season in 2024. For the first time in MLB history last season, pitchers had a limit on how much time they had before throwing their next pitch. It resulted in games lasting two hours and 40 minutes, a 24-minute decrease from the 2022 season. Those 2:40 games apparently weren't quite short enough for MLB, however. The league is tweaking the pitch clock in 2024, albeit slightly. 

Here's how the pitch clock will work this season:

  • No runners on base: Pitchers have 15 seconds to throw their next pitch (same as the 2023 season)
  • At least one runner on base: Pitchers have 18 seconds to throw their next pitch (down from 20 seconds in 2023)

A pitcher failing to start his throwing motion before the clock runs out results in an automatic ball. A batter, meanwhile, must be in the box and "alert to the pitcher" with no less than eight seconds remaining on the clock. A batter failing to do so will be charged with an automatic strike.

Like last season, pitchers will get two "disengagements" (stepping off the rubber or making a pick-off attempt) per plate appearance that will reset the pitch clock.

The pitch clock was used throughout the postseason in 2023, and that is set to be the case again in 2024.

New lane on the basepaths

Hitters will have more room when they're trying to beat out an infield single in 2024. MLB has widened the runner's lane between home plate and first base and it now includes the dirt between the foul line and infield grass. Here's more from

Previously, MLB Rule 5.09 (a)(11) required a batter to run the last half of the distance between home plate and first base between the foul line and a three-foot line drawn on the right-hand side of the dirt.

Under the new rule, this runner's lane will still be chalked in order to keep runners from drifting too far into foul territory on plays in which the ball is in foul territory, such as dropped third strikes. But instead of forcing the runner to be in foul territory (right of the foul line), the runner will now be deemed in compliance with the rule as long as both feet remain on the dirt path between home and first.

In addition to the wider path between home and first, MLB is planning to "strictly enforce" another base-running rule in 2024. Umpires this season are set to crack down on the obstruction rule, which states infielders are not allowed to block a runner's path to a base. This will mostly impact plays near second and third base, and in the event that the umpire deems a baserunner has been obstructed by a fielder, the runner will be called safe. 

Mound visits and batters faced requirement

MLB is making rule changes that cover pitching changes and mound visits in 2024.

  • Mound visits: Every team will have four mound visits per game with their pitchers, down from five trips in 2023. An extra mound visit, however, will be issued for the ninth inning if the defensive team has no visits remaining at the end of the eighth inning.
  • Batters faced requirement: The three-batter minimum remains in effect in 2024, meaning a pitcher must face at least three batters or end a half-inning before a team can make another pitching change. There is a new tweak to the rule in 2024, too. If a pitcher warms up on the mound before an inning, that pitcher must now face at least one batter (in addition to meeting requirements of the three-batter minimum), barring injury. MLB says there were 24 instances of a pitcher warming up between innings and not facing a batter in 2023.

Automatic runner in extra innings

Yes, the ghost runners are still here in 2024. MLB made the automatic runner rule permanent for regular-season games in 2023. In the 10th inning or later, teams will begin each half-inning with a runner on second base. This rule is not used in the postseason.