Luis Garcia forced to change delivery due to new MLB rules
Major League Baseball games will look entirely different in 2023 than it has the last few years. Shifts have been banned in an effort to drive up base hits, the bases are bigger to motivate base runners to attempt more steals and seek out additional extra-base hits, and pitch clocks have been implemented in an effort to speed up the game.
All of these changes are being made in an effort to draw more viewers. One rule in particular isn't new, but will be more heavily cracked down on in 2023. Umpires will be enforcing the balk rule with far greater frequency in 2023, and Astros pitcher Luis Garcia will be heavily impacted by the rule.
As The Athletic details, many pitchers will be forced to adapt due to the emphasis on enforcing the balk rules. Most of these pitchers are impacted because they bounced their leg when a runner is on base. Luis Garcia on the other hand will have to develop an entirely new windup, or else he will be called for an automatic ball anytime he does his trademark "rock the baby" delivery.
As the Athletic explains:
"In particular, one of the game’s most unique deliveries technically runs afoul of the rule. Astros right-hander Luis Garcia famously “rocks the baby,” swinging his arms and taking steps forward and backward before raising his leg and moving down the mound, mechanics he favors (and that he developed on his own) purely for their repeatability. Now, he will have to adjust or face being frequently called for an automatic ball."- Zach Buchanan
By the letter of the law, Garcia's windup has always been a balk, but with no runners on base, there hasn't been any penalty levied against him. In the new crackdown, this delivery will be called a ball.
Garcia is already working on a new delivery in Spring Training as highlighted by Mark Berman.
While games Garcia starts will no doubt be faster, it is sad to see some of the quirkiness and ticks that make baseball players so endearing legislated out of the game. We've even seen Garcia's windup emulated in youth baseball circles in Houston.
We'll see if Garcia can retain his form, or if he loses some comfortability and regresses moving forward. Either way, we'll mis Luis' trademark windup that endeared him to Houstonians upon his debut.