Kyle Finnegan

Getty Kyle Finnegan

The pitch clock was introduced to the major leagues before the 2023 season, and while it has attracted its fair share of discussion and controversy since that time, the idea that an MLB game could actually be won or lost with a pitch clock violation was purely hypothetical — until now.

On June 23, the Colorado Rockies defeated the Washington Nationals 9-7 in the first walk-off pitch clock violation in MLB history. With bases loaded and no outs in the ninth inning, the Rockies’ Ryan McMahon drew a walk when a pitch clock violation by the Nationals’ Kyle Finnegan resulted in ball four to end the game.

While undeniably embarrassing for the Nationals, the shocking walk-off win left the Rockies elated, a feeling McMahon expressed to’s Thomas Harding and Jessica Camerato.

“When you’re a kid, those are the moments you dream up,” he said. “I never look at [the clock]. After I get in by eight seconds, I’m not looking at [the plate umpire]. I’m letting the umpire do his job.”

Rockies’ manager Bud Buck shared his excitement.

“How about that? The Rockies and the Nationals are a part of history.”


Finnegan Leads MLB in Pitch Clock Violations

The game-ending pitch clock violation on June 23 was Finnegan’s ninth of the season. No other pitcher in MLB has more than five.

“I think he leads the league in violations, so you’ve got to have some awareness,” Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez told The Washington Post’s Spencer Nusbaum after game. “He could have stepped off. It’s a tough situation, something he’s got to be mindful of.”

Still, it’s a hard way for Finnegan to learn the lesson.

“At first, I didn’t really know what he called because I thought I was right on time. I wasn’t,” Finnegan told “So it kind of dawned on me that I was too late. Just immediately, [I] felt awful about letting the team down in that big spot there. To lose the game in that way, it just can’t happen.”

He continued, “I like to use the clock to my advantage, but I’ve just got to make sure there’s still one tick left. I didn’t do that tonight, and I paid for it.”

Pitch Clock Shortened In 2024

When the pitch clock was introduced before the 2023 season, pitchers had 15 seconds to throw when bases were empty and 20 seconds with at least one runner on base. This resulted in games lasting an average of two hours and 40 minutes, a 24-minute decrease from the year prior. Still, MLB tweaked the timing of the pitch clock before the 2024 season to speed things up even more.

This season, pitchers have 15 seconds to throw when bases are empty (same as 2023) and 18 seconds with at least one runner on base (down from 20 seconds in 2023). Pitchers still get two disengagements per plate appearance that will reset the pitch clock, which can include stepping off the rubber or making a pick-off attempt if there are runners on base.

Since its introduction, the pitch clock has been the subject of much scrutiny, with critics only getting louder after the allowed time was shortened this season. With 2024 seeing an unprecedented number of top pitchers suffering injuries, the MLBPA released a statement on April 6 pointing the blame at the pitch clock.

“Despite unanimous Player opposition and significant concerns regarding health and safety, the Commissioner’s Office reduced the length of the Pitch Clock last December, just one season removed from imposing the most significant rule change in decades,” the union’s executive director, Tony Clark, wrote. “Since then, our concerns about the health impacts of reduced recovery time have only intensified.”

The statement, posted on X, continued: “The league’s unwillingness thus far to acknowledge or study the effects of these profound changes is an unprecedented threat to our game and its most valuable asset — the Players.”

Just hours later, MLB released a statement of their own, rejecting the MLBPA’s assertion that the pitch clock was to blame for the increase in pitcher injuries, instead pointing to the increases in pitch velocity and spin seen across the majors.

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