For years it's been suspected that an overwhelming number of major league pitchers were using illegal foreign substance to help increase spin rates and make their pitches more effective. MLB investigated and, yep, that's been happening on a wide scale. The crackdown is coming and it will be brutal.
MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported that evidence was presented to MLB owners that showed the use of illegal substances by pitchers was "very prevalent" and the response will now begin in earnest.
Certain players have seen noticeable increases in spin rates over the last few years. Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer -- two of the top pitchers in the game -- are among them. Bauer has been almost open about his increase in spin rates after accusing the Houston Astros (including Cole) of doing it. Earlier this season the league removed balls from a game in which Bauer was pitching and they reportedly had a sticky substance on them.
Having a better grip on the ball by using some kind of sticky substance will increase spin rates on pitches. Higher spin rates lead to better carry and velocity on fastballs and better movement on breaking pitches. Along with a deadened baseball, the prevalence of pitchers using foreign substances might account for the reduced offensive production we've seen leaguewide in 2021.
It will be fascinating to see how this plays out. Will MLB issue suspensions or just make pitchers who get caught leave the current game they're in? Will teams/players face fines or will this just be a polite "don't do this anymore" type situation? We'll see how this all plays out but if the crackdown is real and harsh, expect a number of high-profile pitchers to come back to earth over the next few months.