MLB looking at possible limits on the use of relief pitchers

Manfred looking to restrict use of relief pitchers (1:08)

Rob Manfred says on Mike & Mike he's looking into finding a way to limit the number of relief pitchers teams can use in an inning or game. (1:08)

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that the league is looking at limiting the use of relief pitchers in games.

Manfred was a guest on ESPN's Mike & Mike, where he was presented nine suggestions from fans for improving baseball. One suggestion was a restriction on relief pitching in an inning or game.

"I am in favor of something like that," Manfred said. "We've spent a ton of time on this issue in the last few months.

"You know the problem with relief pitchers is that they're so good. I've got nothing against relief pitchers, but they do two things to the game: The pitching changes themselves slow the game down, and our relief pitchers have become so dominant at the back end that they actually rob action out of the end of the game, the last few innings of the game. So relief pitchers is a topic that is under active consideration. We're talking about that a lot internally."

This year, the average time of a game is 3 hours, 4 minutes. By comparison, in 2005 games averaged 2 hours, 49 minutes.

In mid-May, Manfred said he was unhappy with the pace of games, which at the time was 3 hours and 26 seconds. He said then that MLB would look at "creative ways" to improve both time and pace of games.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said Thursday he isn't keen on any bullpen limitations.

"Fundamentally, when you begin to restrict things, rather than being able to use your roster at your disposal, that begins to artificially control the game," Farrell said. "I understand the need to keep the pace of the game going. Without knowing what options would exist and what are the alternatives being considered, that's my first gut reaction.

"In the moment [as a manager], I'm not worried about the pace of the game. As a person who works in the game, sure, we're always looking for ways to make it more attractive to fans, to grow our fan base, to attract young fans. We are all aware of that challenge. We're all open to ways to grow that. But in the seventh inning in a bases-loaded situation, I'm not thinking about pace of games."

Information from ESPN's Scott Lauber was used in this report.