Major League Baseball is currently cracking down on pitchers using foreign substances. It is suspected that many top pitchers around the MLB use these substances. New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole was asked on Tuesday if he has ever used a substance called Spider Tack. Spider Tack is a sticky substance that is used on the mound.
Cole did not give the best answer to this question.
Gerrit Cole on if he ever used Spider Tack while pitching:
“I don’t quite know how to answer that, to be honest…If MLB wants to legislate some more stuff, that’s a conversation that we can have” pic.twitter.com/2fR1AUeOQX
— Yankees Videos (@snyyankees) June 8, 2021
“I don’t [long pause] … I don’t know … don’t quite know how to answer that, to be honest,” said Cole. Cole looked very uncomfortable in the press conference. But what is going on with Cole and foreign substances in baseball?
The Issue With Foreign Substances
The MLB is finally poised to crack down on foreign substances, after ignoring them for decades. Ever since team owners voted to continue with the crackdown last week, many of the game’s top pitchers have shown a decrease in spin rate on their pitches. These pitchers include Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, Tyler Glasnow, Shane Bieber, and more.
“Is it a coincidence that Gerrit Cole’s spin rate numbers went down [Thursday] after four minor leaguers got suspended for 10 games?” Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson told reporters last Saturday.
Trevor Bauer and Cole have been at the center of the foreign substance scandals for years. Bauer openly called out Cole for using substances when he was with the Houston Astros for his drastic spin rate increase while he was an Astro. But when Bauer was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, his RPM (rotations per minute) increased drastically as well after calling out Cole.
Bauer’s spin rate decreased significantly though in his start last Sunday against the Atlanta Braves. Take a look.
Indians star Shane Bieber and Rays ace Tyler Glasnow’s spin rates also decreased in their most recent starts on Tuesday. Take a look at the drop in Glasnow’s spin rate, via Baseball Savant.
The offense has been down across the MLB this year. Some may blame it on pitchers using substances, and some also may blame it on the new deadened baseballs. Pitchers have been using substances to gain an advantage for decades, and I find it odd that the MLB is deciding to crack down on it now.
What’s Up With Cole?
Gerrit Cole has been everything the Yankees expected of him since they signed him back in December 2019 to a $324 million dollar deal. The results of this press conference could be considered his lowest point since arriving in the Bronx. Cole was getting abused on social media for his answer and for how he went very off-topic following his answer.
“There are customs and practices that have been passed down from older players to younger players, from the last generation of players to this generation of players, and I think there are some things that are certainly out of bounds in that regard”. “This is important to a lot of people who love the game, including the players in this room, including fans, including teams, so if MLB wants to legislate some more stuff, that’s a conversation that we can have. Because ultimately we should all be pulling in the same direction on this.”
Also not to mention Cole’s spin rate has dropped significantly since 4 MiLB pitchers were suspended last week for using foreign substances. According to data from Baseball Savant, Cole had a decrease of 125 rotations per minute on his four-seam fastball last week against the Rays. His curveball dropped 78 RPMs, 48 RPMs on his slider, and 77 RPMs on his changeup. Cole also gave up 5 runs in that start, and he blamed the decline in spin rate on his mechanics.
It is also worth noting that Cole just has not been himself over the last few starts. Over his first eight starts, Cole had an ERA of 1.37. Over the last four starts, his ERA ballooned to 4.30, now posting a 2.26 ERA for the season.
Gerrit Cole gets the nod to start tonight against Josh Donaldson and the Twins. If Cole wants to silence people and get out of this sticky situation, he has to put on a masterful performance tonight against the Twins. Otherwise, the writing is clearly on the wall for what is in store for Gerrit Cole moving forward.