Asked directly Tuesday if he had used Spider Tack – a sticky paste that can greatly increase spinning in pitches – while on the mound, Yankees’ Gerrit Cole stammered through a response by quoting the shady tradition of pitcher breaking rules to get an edge.
“I do not quite know how to answer that, to be honest,” Cole said at a Zoom conference with journalists after searching for an answer in about 15 seconds. “I mean, there are customs and practices that have been transferred from older players to younger players from the last generation of players to this generation of players. I think there are some things that are definitely out of bounds in that regard and I have been pretty firm about it in terms of communication between our peers and what is not. ”
He added: “This is important for many people who love the game, including the players, including fans, including teams. If MLB wants to legislate a few more things, it’s a conversation we can have, because ultimately we should all be pulling in the same direction on this. ”
Major League Baseball has been desperate to curb the rise in strikes that have overtaken the sport in recent years. Lately, the league has focused on the foreign substances that pitcher uses furtively on the ball, a practice that has become more and more common – and effective – with technology that tracks exactly how much their pitches turn.
Spider Tack is marketed to competitive stronger to improve their grip while pulling Atlas stones, and studies have shown that it is much more useful to increase spinning speeds than traditional methods like sunscreen mixed with rosin. All that is forbidden for the pitcher to use. But for years, the practice was so widespread and accepted that most teams largely ignored it.
However, the topic became a prominent topic at the owners’ meetings last week, and MLB plans to formalize enforcement protocols and sanction structures in the coming days. Judges will likely be asked to check jug gloves, caps and uniforms for evidence of foreign substances.
Kande may have already heard the warnings, and Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson named Cole in a weekend interview with The Athletic. In Cole’s last start, his spin speed dropped by 125 rpm. Minute on his four-nail fastball and also fell on his off-speed pitches.
“Is it a coincidence that Gerrit Cole’s spin rate dropped after four minor leagues were suspended for 10 games?” Said Donaldson. “Is it possible? I do not know. Maybe. At the same time, they have let guys do it with this situation.”
Cole dismissed Donaldson’s comments as “low-hanging fruit,” but said he was entitled to his opinion. Cole, a member of the board of the players’ association, said he supported an open dialogue on the subject with fellow players.
Cole’s fast spin speed of four stitches was 2,164 rpm in 2017, his final season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It rose to 2,379 rpm in 2018, his first of two seasons with the Houston Astros, and has been around 2,500 since 2019.
As for the drop in his spin speed last Thursday, when he allowed five hits and five runs in five innings with seven strikes in a loss to Tampa Bay, Cole said his mechanics were off, affecting his release on the ball.
“I just attribute it to not being as good or as sharp as I would be,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”