MLB finds itself ‘stuck’ due to cheaters

Since its creation, Major League Baseball players have garnished new ideas to gain competitive advantages, from using pine tar, to corking bats, and of course the short lived, yet exciting steroid era. 

However, some people are saying the newest method to hit baseball is more effective than steroids.

Trevor Bauer, who now pitches for the Los Angeles Dodgers, has been vocal about pitchers’ recent use of foreign substances for a few years. Pitchers have always used adhesives like spit, pine tar and a mix of sunscreen and rosin to grip balls better. But this new substance is even stickier, and a former MLB clubhouse manager says some teams even create their own substances using scientists. 

How can we tell that pitchers are cheating? 

One player said that around 70 percent of pitchers in the league use some sort of foreign substance. But if you’re watching at home, check the pitcher’s stance after a foul ball or a new at bat (whenever they get a fresh ball). If the pitcher rubs the brim of his hat or the inside of his glove, he’s (probably) sticking his hand in goo. 

Gerrit Cole touching the brim of his hat during a game.

What does a foreign substance do exactly? 

Any pitcher using the newest form of adhesive will see a drastic rise in spin rate. More spin equals more movement.  This makes pitches harder to hit for batters, and the league is experiencing the effects now. As of June, the league is on pace to have record lows in batting averages and to break the records for strikeouts in a single season. There’s already been six no-hitters up until June, and the current record for no-no’s in a full year is eight. 

Using Gerrit Cole as an example, since 2017, he’s increased the spin rate of his fastball by 300 RPM. While that’s nice, the most effective part of the new substance is that it could add an additional 2 inches of movement on curveballs and sliders, which makes them virtually unhittable as well. 

What is Major League Baseball doing about it?

From the outside it seems like nothing, but they said they’re investigating and trying to figure out a solution for next year. While the occasional no hitter is a treat, fans don’t want to pay big bucks to watch their favorite players go hitless. Some solutions the league is weighing for next year (besides enforcing the ban foreign substances, hopefully) include adding designated hitter to both leagues and moving the pitching mound back one foot.