Gerrit Cole doesn't want to discuss whether or not he's ever doctored the baseball before. On Tuesday, the New York Yankees ace refused to confirm or deny if he's ever used the sticky substance Spider Tack while pitching. His aversion to answering the question didn't exactly make him look innocent.
Cole has been accused of using illegal substances on the ball to help increase spin rates before, most publicly by former UCLA teammate Trevor Bauer. When the New York Post's Ken Davidoff asked Cole if he'd ever used Spider Tack before when pitching, this is how he answered:
So, that's a yes. He essentially rambled for more than a minute and never actually answered the question. Amazing that all of a sudden Cole couldn't speak coherently.
During his final season with the Pittsburgh Pirates (2017), the spin rate on Cole's four-seam fastball averaged 2,164 rpm. In his first season after being traded to the Houston Astros (2018), it jumped to 2,379, then jumped again to 2,530 in 2019. That improved spin rate led directly to Cole's emergence as a legit ace who was among the top pitchers in MLB. The following offseason he signed a nine-year, $324 million contract with the Yankees.
Experts claim the only way for a pitcher to get his spin rate to jump by that much is to apply illegal substances to the baseball. That "sticky stuff" enhances grip and leads to more revolutions on the ball as it approaches the plate. How does that help? Well, fastballs stay fast longer, and breaking balls break more.
Given his jump in rpms, it's fairly easy to assume Cole was using something to enhance his stuff. And given that he didn't deny using Spider Tack, I think we all know what the deal is.