MLB implemented significant change earlier this season by beginning to enforce its rules against the use of foreign substances on baseballs.
The league reached such a decision in the wake of offense dropping to historic lows across the sport. MLB attributed the drop-off in production to pitchers applying sticky substances to baseballs, which helped them increase their spin rates and improve command.
Ever since reports began to surface that MLB was planning a crackdown on the use of foreign substances, spin rates dropped around the league and more runs started being scored. Some pitchers have since seen an increase in spin rate, but levels remain lower than before the change.
The new rules forced pitchers to adapt in the middle of a season, which was the root of frustration for some. For Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior, he had already began an effort to help his pitching staff stay ahead of the curve, per Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic:
“I’m more worried about, can we execute pitches in the right locations, in the right lanes, at the right time, in the right counts,” Prior said. “No matter what’s going on (around the league) we’re always trying to keep an eye on what’s going on (with our guys). … I don’t think that dynamic changes from my perspective and how we evaluate guys and how we use what we feel are things that are working well for a guy and then try to exploit those in a given (outing).
“I think over the course of time, pitching has always been adjusting. It was sinker-slider when I first came up, and then it’s kind of flipped to a little bit more (of a) vertical game. … I think it’s definitely plausible (that) that action and a little bit more playing down in the zone will help. But at the end of the day, you’re trying to find the best people and the best arms and go to battle.”
Although offense has increased since MLB began tasking umpires with regular checks of pitchers, the rule change was blamed for injury.
Tampa Bay Rays ace Tyler Glasnow was the most emphatic to do so, suggesting his partially torn UCL was a byproduct of not even being allowed to use sunscreen.
He admitted to using a mixture of sunscreen and rosin in the past to get a better grip on his pitches, and believes not being able to do so in during a start caused the injury.
Treinen upset with foreign substances perception
The Dodgers have not appeared to suffer much from a performance standpoint, but Blake Treinen made note of his disappointment over the perception sticky checks created.
“The only thing that I really don’t like is it makes every pitcher that comes onto the mound kind of like a guilty culprit until proven innocent,” he said earlier this season.
“We all just look like we’re a bunch of cheaters to the publics’ eyes, and that’s not really fair to a majority of the pitchers out there. But we’ll do what we have to do if that’s what it means to clear our names.”
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