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MLB News: Astros Players Named in An Illegal Ball Doctoring Scheme

Here we go again.



The Houston Astros and cheating, a match made it heaven. Just over a year after news broke that MLB was launching an investigation into Houston for their use of video footage, they’re back and making headlines again. 

To be fair, the Angels and plenty of other players are also making headlines. A former Anaheim clubhouse manager named several pitchers that he had helped develop a substance to use while pitching for a better grip. Former Astro Gerrit Cole and current Houston pitcher Justin Verlander were both named in the report by the former Angels employee, Brian Harkins. 

In the report released by the LA Times, Harkins reveals a 2019 text message from Gerrit Cole, now with the Yankees. In the message, Cole asked Harkins for help developing a new substance to use that won’t be changed by the cold weather. Harkins was dismissed by MLB after an investigation revealed he had been helping players to cheat, dating back to the days of Troy Percival

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Per the article, Harkins was interviewed by MLB on the allegations back in March. Regardless, there has not been a public addressing of the situation regardless of what Harkins claims. The claims would all make sense though, given what players like Trevor Bauer have said about the Astros in the past. 

The allegation would also make sense in terms of the career arcs for both Cole and Verlander. Both guys experienced fairly drastic upticks in spin rate as well as overall success when coming over to the Astros from other teams. For now, it remains a bold allegation and one that MLB will have to get under control. 

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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  1. We best not be pointing fingers on ball doctoring. Given how wide spread the practice of ball doctoring reportedly is, it would be foolish to assume that no Dodger pitchers would be eventually implicated.

  2. This is something I actually talked about even before the sign stealing thing became known. Verlander was washed up before going to Houston then suddenly started pitching like he was in his prime again. Cole wasn’t anything great in Pittsburgh but goes to Houston and suddenly becomes an ace who commanded a ridiculous contract. McCullers was also unhittable at one point which made no sense, that guy had the arrogance on top of it like Correa and Bregman

  3. Gaylord Perry (and many other “users”) are in the HOF. For all the Dodger fans, ask Don Sutton about a “foreign substance”. It’s not going to stop.

  4. As ML pitchers continue to increase velocity perhaps MLB should change the rule and allow all pitchers to use the SAME substance to improve grip on the ball and better command of their pitches. I doubt that ML hitters would complain about using something that would pitchers control 100 mph fastballs, or 92 mph sliders

  5. The article on CBS Sports by RJ Anderson stated pitchers using foreign substances for grips had long been accepted, if not technically legal. MLB didn’t issue a warning on this issued until February 2020. So I don’t see why this is a big deal. I can guarantee some of the Dodgers pitchers, current or former, also use foreign substances for grips.

  6. Considering that the message from Gerrit Cole dates back to January 2019 and the use of the substance in question wasn’t banned from the game until a memo released in February of 2020, the accusation that using it was cheating is GARBAGE. It isn’t cheating if it isn’t against the rules!

    Say what you like, when a Dodger’s runner was on second base, they were looking into home plate to see catchers signs. And, just like every team admit, they were all doing this for years before the Astros cheating scandal. But they aren’t accused of cheating for stealing signs because the rules allow it. If you are going to start saying that it is cheating even if it allowed by the rules, then you better start figuring out how to punish EVERY team.

    Plus, considering the pitcher giving it the substance out was a coach in the Los Angeles spots community, I think the Dodgers fans better be careful pointing fingers about it. Because when they point fingers, you can probably be pretty confident that four are pointing back at them!

    • Wow what a negative fellow you are! Sign stealing from runners is a baseball tradition. It is why with runners on the catchers and pitchers change sign sequence. Having dedicated spotters in the stadiums with electronic set ups to rely pitches to a batter is NOT and has never been sanctioned.
      Astros wearing electronic devices is Not Ok. It is cheating and they should have been banned from baseball.
      Baseball needs to figure out what they want to allow with pitchers using banned substances. There was a memo last year.

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