Play ball: Chicago style

Danielle Joseph, sports editor

Now that spring has sprung, the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) season is in full swing. However, this season will look much different from prior years due to the addition of various new rules, specifically the pitch clock. 

The idea of the pitch clock arose in 2015 to draw more attention to games following a decline in viewers. The league began to test out the idea in the minor leagues at double-A and triple-A games. During the 2022 MLB season, an average game lasted a little over three hours, according to However, with the addition of the pitch clock to the minor leagues, those games sped up by about 25 minutes, reported.

The pitch clock rule is pitchers receive 15 seconds to pitch when there is no player on base and 20 seconds when there is at least one runner on base. Additionally, the batter has to be ready to face the pitch within eight seconds of the clock starting or else they receive an automatic strike.  This allows pitchers a greater advantage because they can play the game at their speed, not the batters’ speed. 

Even though batters face a disadvantage with the pitch clock, they still have an advantage when it comes to base hitting because the MLB removed the ability to shift defensively. The shift is when defenders switch their traditional positions to defend against the batter. For example, when facing a left-handed hitter, the infield would typically move to the left side of the second base. This ensures that they could get the batter out because left-handed hitters typically pull the ball to the left side of the base. However, with that privilege gone defensively, left-handed batters are at an advantage because they can get base hits that would have been outs when the shift was legal.

In addition to the various rule changes this offseason, many teams were very aggressive in boosting their rosters, especially the Chicago Cubs. 

Most notably, the Cubs acquired shortstop Dansby Swanson, right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon, and center fielder Cody Bellinger to strengthen a roster that was torn apart the last two years with the departure of key players from their 2016 World Series victory: Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Báez. 

I expect the Cubs to have a bounce-back season this year after a series of disappointing seasons following their 2016 World Series victory. In the small sample size procured so far this season, the Cubs looked sharp: capturing an opening-day shutout against the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-0. Swanson showed Cubs fans the direct impact he can make on the team by recording 3 hits and a run batted in to help the Cubs’ offense. Marcus Stroman, a right-handed pitcher, had a stellar game pitching six scoreless innings in an effort to silence the Brewer’s offense. Stroman could be a candidate for the National League CY young. 

On the South Side, the Chicago White Sox have new coaching under new Manager Pedro Grifol. Grifol will take over for Tony LaRussa, who served two seasons as the White Sox Manager. 

Even with a new manager in town, the White Sox have gotten off to a sluggish start this season with poor starting pitching from all of their starters besides right handed pitcher Dylan Cease. 

Cease has gotten off to a stellar start this season, recording wins in all of his starts and only giving up three or less runs per game. 

Unexpectedly, right-handed pitcher Lance Lynn has had a rough start to this season, especially against the San Francisco Giants giving up eight runs in only four innings pitched. This rough start for Lynn is very unexpected considering he pitched lights out in the World Baseball Classic. 

Moving to first base, the White Sox lost longtime Sox and first baseman, José Abreu, to the Houston Astros in free agency. Current first baseman Andrew Vaughn has done a good job defensively for the White Sox, so far, but his batting numbers will need to improve especially if he wants to remain in the third spot of the lineup.

Additionally, the White Sox bolstered their outfield defensively with the addition of left fielder Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals and the promotion of right fielder Oscar Colas to the opening-day roster. In center field, the White Sox will have a healthy Luis Robert after suffering from injuries these past two MLB seasons. The White Sox now have players in their traditional positions in the outfield. This differs compared to the past two seasons when they had traditional first basemen Vaughn and Gavin Sheets playing in the right field due to the lack of outfielders on their team in previous seasons. 

In the outfield, Robert has done a stellar job in centerfield and has been making his case for another gold glove early on in the season. In games against the Astros and Padres he made several impressive catches to steal home runs or potential runs from several hitters. 

As both Chicago teams have their eyes set on the playoffs, this MLB season will shape into what looks to be an exciting and hopeful season for both the Cubs and the White Sox.