This season, Garcia's "rock the baby" motion followed by cha cha steps will no longer fly under new rules designed to speed up baseball games. A new pitch timer clock will make the unique windup illegal.
Pitchers will have 15 seconds to deliver their pitch with no one on base and 20 seconds with runners on base.
“The pitch timer is — by far — the biggest change that's coming this season,” said MLB executive vice president Morgan Sword said Tuesday. “Frankly, it's probably the biggest change that's been made to baseball in most of our lifetimes.”
The pitch clock was used during minor league games last season with dramatic results. Games that used the clock were an average of 25 minutes shorter than those that didn't.
Sword said MLB's research shows fans prefer games that last around 2:30 instead of over three hours in an average season.
According to Astros reporter Brian McTaggart, the Astros were told about the rule in December.
“We just had to get a hold of Luis and told him that it might not be allowed, so we need to practice something a little more traditional,” Houston pitching coach Josh Miller told McTaggart. “If he's not able to use it anymore, it'll be a shame in my opinion. But like I said, I'm sure he'll adapt and do fine without it.”
Other teams whose pitchers have unique windups were also warned.
“There’s a whole host of funky deliveries that are within the rules,” Sword said. “We encourage funky pitchers to be funky within the rules.”
Garcia's "funky" delivery was a hit with fans. It inspired t-shirts, the "Rock-a-by-baby" song when he took the mound and at least one Little League imitator.
KHOU 11 Sports Director Jason Bristol talked with 9-year-old Charlie Spring about his rock the baby windup.
"Yeah, it's funny, but it's fun once you get the hang of it," Charlie said.
The Astros even showed the side-by-side comparison during a game and Charlie heard from Garcia, 3B Alex Bregman and SS Jeremy Peña.
The Astros tweeted about the new rule Wednesday with side-by-side videos of Garcia and Charlie with the caption "End of an era" and a crying emoji. That delivered the wrong impression to some followers who thought they meant Garcia was leaving the team.
Garcia went 15-8 with a 3.72 ERA in 28 regular-season starts in 2022 but was moved to the bullpen in the postseason because the Astros had so much pitching depth.
Some fans are confident he'll still have his good stuff even without the rock the baby windup.