Major league teams playing marathon-length games in October

ByJerry Crasnick ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball's postseason has featured some compelling storylines and classic endings -- from Justin Turner's walk-off homer against the Chicago Cubs to Carlos Correa's game-winning double to beat the Yankees. And the presence of several big-market, marquee teams has led to substantially higher television ratings.

But if you think the games are dragging on further than ever into the night, your eyes aren't deceiving you.

After setting a record for long game times during the regular season, MLB has continued the trend into October. Entering Tuesday's American and National League Championship Series games, the average time for a nine-inning playoff game was 3 hours, 35 minutes -- up 10 minutes from 2016 and 21 minutes from two years ago.

The longer playoff games run parallel to a spike in game times during the regular season. The average nine-inning game was a record 3:05 this season -- compared with 2:56 in 2015 and 3:00 last year.

Playoff games typically run longer because of lengthier commercial breaks and liberal use of bullpens. This year, the effect has been more pronounced than ever. Of the 24 wild-card and playoff games before Tuesday, Justin Verlander's 2-1 complete-game victory over the Yankees on Saturday was the quickest. It lasted an even three hours.

Commissioner Rob Manfred, who has consistently talked about the importance of improving MLB's pace of play, declined to comment on the topic Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. Among other initiatives, baseball is reportedly exploring the possibility of introducing pitch clocks in 2018.