MLB is finally making a decision on the foreign substance rule that has been up in the air for a while. Historically, the league has turned a blind eye to pitchers using grip enhancers while on the mound. The only real exception to that has been pine tar, which umpires have caught onto quickly.
But it’s well known within MLB that pitchers use some sort of mixture to help with grip. This is especially true in the cold weather. Some guys have been on record saying that the majority of guys around the league use something to help them, though that obviously cannot be confirmed.
A member of the Angels’ visiting clubhouse recently filed a lawsuit after he revealed opposing pitchers asked him for a substance he developed. He alleged that some big names constantly requested it, including former Houston Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole.
But now, MLB is cracking down on the issue. A memo sent to all 30 teams in the league went over new guidelines that would be in place for this season. Each team will have a compliance officer monitoring dugouts, batting cages, bullpens, and clubhouses throughout the season.
Players are subject to discipline by the Commissioner’s Office for violating the Official Baseball Rules regardless of whether evidence of the violation has been discovered during or following a game.
These officers will take random samples of balls used in games as well. The samples will be sent off to a lab and tested to ensure that a substance was not used while a pitcher was in the game. MLB also says that they will be looking at what type of substances are being used to further crackdown.
MLB will also look at the spin-rate analysis of pitchers to look for indicators of a foreign substance being used. They will look at Statcast data and compare the spin-rates to the career average to see if there is any reason to investigate. So I guess that gets guys off of the hook that have been using it for their entire career.
Leave it to Rob Manfred to further complicate an issue that not many were concerned about in the first place.