With MLB cracking down on pitchers using illegal foreign substances in games, will the likes of Gerrit Cole or Trevor Bauer face punishment?
MLB has been in the news recently for going in the direction of cracking down on pitchers using illegal foreign substances during games, per a recent report by ESPN’s Buster Olney. That was evidenced last week when the league suspended three minor league pitchers for 10 games for using said substances to doctor baseballs.
With the league set to enforce punishments on illegal foreign substances, there has been a decrease in spin rates among pitchers at the major league level. Two of the big-name pitchers in the league in Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees and Trevor Bauer of the Los Angeles Dodgers did have noticeable drops during their starts following the news of the suspension of the three aforementioned minor league pitchers.
Will Gerrit Cole or Trevor Bauer face punishment?
Cole’s name entered the equation after Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson used him as a hypothetical example after four minor league arms were suspended this season. Donaldson noted that Cole’s spin rate dropped in his start against the Tampa Bay Rays last Thursday, where he surrendered five earned runs on five hits in five innings in New York’s 9-2 loss.
Bauer pitched for the Dodgers this past Sunday against the Atlanta Braves, and the spin rate on his four-seam fastball dropped 223-rpm below his season average, per Baseball Savant. In the contest, Bauer allowed three earned runs on six hits in Los Angeles’ 4-2 defeat.
Even after the game Bauer stressed that he wanted to compete on a fair playing field, a sentiment echoed by Angels star outfielder Mike Trout on Monday. And it appears that MLB is going to ensure just that, once the enforcement rules are finalized.
The suspension of the four minor league pitchers this season was essentially a warning sent by MLB to their pitchers across the league. It was a simple message — cut it out or get punished. So no, there will not be a punishment issued to pitchers like Cole or Bauer. A pitcher will be penalized if they get caught in a game upon inspection by umpires, whenever the rules are finalized.