Prior to the start of the 2021 season, Major League Baseball sent a memo to all teams explaining they would use Statcast data to analyze potential increases in spin rate.
The motive behind this is to crack down on pitchers’ suspected use of banned substances. MLB has investigated several pitchers this season, including Los Angeles Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer, but no significant punishments were handed down.
Despite this, the consensus around the league is that many pitchers still are applying foreign substances on baseballs to increase their spin rate. The evidence supports this notion, as the MLB batting average currently is at an all-time low and strikeouts have continued to soar.
After gathering for two days’ worth of meetings this week, MLB team owners were informed of three areas in which they can help prevent pitchers from doctoring baseballs, via Joel Sherman of the New York Post:
Place a greater responsibility on teams to enforce rules against doctoring the ball within their own clubs.
Empowering umpires to check, especially caps, gloves and uniforms, for signs of illegal substances on a pitcher. The strategy likely would be for umpires to check each pitcher as they enter the game and remove any questionable piece of uniform or equipment and provide a warning that a return of an illegal substance would lead to ejection from the game and discipline by MLB.
Stepping up enforcement in the minor leagues as a way to address a systemic problem within the sport.
With MLB concerned about the current state of offense, they are ramping up efforts to stop pitchers from altering baseballs to get more swings-and-misses.
If a player is proven to have applied a foreign substance on a ball, the league plans to include suspensions as part of its punishments. The expectation is that such a suspension would be for 10 games.
Dave Roberts felt MLB ‘singled out’ Bauer with investigation
When reports surfaced that MLB was investigating Bauer and baseballs he used during a start against the Oakland Athletics in April, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts quickly came to the defense of the right-hander.
“My understanding is that umpires collect baseballs from all pitchers and balls that were in play, to collect samples,” Roberts began. “That’s kind of what I get from it. I just hope that our player is not singled out. That’s the one thing I want to guard against.”
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