MLB to institute 8-10 random checks/game for foreign substances

Kliq

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Glasnow is also hurt ALL THE TIME and has never thrown a full-season in 6 seasons in the big leagues and has barely thrown a half-season. His 88 innings pitched so far this year were the second highest of his career.
 

Van Everyman

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Yeah, I don't really see how this is much different from someone saying "I would have recovered faster from my injury if I had been allowed to use steroids/HGH/whatever." It may be true, but it's kind of beside the point.
I'm also not particularly sympathetic to the "Oh no's the batters will all get beaned" argument for letting these guys put Krazy Glue on the baseballs.

Baseball has always been a game of adjustments -- sometimes people adjust better than others, yes. But in this case, the pitchers will have to exert a bit more control over where they locate the ball. Pitch more, throw less.
 

YTF

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I've mentioned a few times that IMO pitchers and MLB share in the blame over what this issue has become. I also think that MLB needs to stop fucking around with the baseballs. They bought that factory that makes the balls and are frequently dicking around with the single most important piece of equipment in the game. What other sport has done that? Trends in the game have affected it and lately MLB's answer is to change the ball. Perhaps this is a different argument, but I see some degree of legitimacy in players pushing back about the balls. I may be misremembering, but weren't there an increase in complaints over blisters a few years back because of the stitching?
 

RedOctober3829

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MLB said they were going to crack down on this in the off-season, and pitchers across the league collectively ignored them. So MLB started collecting balls and building a detailed case on what was going on while offense plummeted. So now MLB follows the data and explains exactly what they’re going to do, but they shouldn’t do anything now just because it’s the middle of the season? That’s stupid, everyone was warned in the off-season and they had time to adjust.

MLB certainly bears a great deal of the blame for letting this situation build over years of ignoring it, but I think they’ve done a good job of addressing the situation and coming up with a rational plan to deal with it.
The rule changes should not have come in the middle of the season. It is the wrong way to go about it. It has to happen in the offseason so pitchers have some time to adjust to gripping the baseball differently. MLB may have mentioned it in the offseason, but there was no incentive to change because there were no penalties for doing so. I put all the blame on MLB here.
 

DJnVa

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MLB may have mentioned it in the offseason, but there was no incentive to change because there were no penalties for doing so.
What did they think the offseason warning was for?


I put all the blame on MLB here.
0% on those cheating?



I'll tell you what I'm 0% on--Glasnow can't grip a baseball without injuring himself unless he's using foreign substances? Come on.
 

RedOctober3829

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0% on those cheating?
It's not cheating if it was universally accepted until now. It should have been handled at the end of the season with rule changes being established going into the next season. This is MLB caving into negative PR.

On your edit, it's not that he can't grip a baseball. It's that he had to grip the baseball a different way which produced more stress on his tendons and ligaments. I'm sure that he didn't snap his UCL in those starts and that his UCL and flexor tendons were already damaged beforehand. But, gripping the baseball a different way looks to have finished the deal in terms of tearing the ligament.
 

Magimus

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I found this fascinating and informative. Pedro suggesting that rosin alone (and using the seams) should be enough for pitchers to get an effective grip. Of course, he's a bit of a freak so maybe his experience isn't universal. Per the story about the Angels clubhouse guy, his "stuff" goes back to Pedro's era so it's not like the balls now are significantly more slippery than they were during his career. Pitchers were still trying to get better grip then. They're just taking it too far now.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQesez-5J_A
Isn’t this kind of the point. The league averages shouldn’t be Pedro, Koufax, Maddox.
 

jon abbey

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And how do you feel about 'pitch framing'? If MLB decides tomorrow that any catcher who moves their glove more than an inch after catching a pitch should be punished because it helps pitchers too much, does that make every catcher in the history of baseball a 'cheater'?
 

Spelunker

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And how do you feel about 'pitch framing'? If MLB decides tomorrow that any catcher who moves their glove more than an inch after catching a pitch should be punished because it helps pitchers too much, does that make every catcher in the history of baseball a 'cheater'?
Is there a rule on the books, albeit not generally enforced, that outlaws the catcher moving their glove?
 

DJnVa

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And how do you feel about 'pitch framing'? If MLB decides tomorrow that any catcher who moves their glove more than an inch after catching a pitch should be punished because it helps pitchers too much, does that make every catcher in the history of baseball a 'cheater'?
That isn't remotely the same thing.

Case A: Pitchers breaking the current rules.

Case B: Rule changing, so I think Gabby Hartnett was a cheater in the 1930s.
 

jon abbey

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Eh, the point to me is pretty similar. No matter what is in the rule book (and 'pitch framing' is a bit of a grey area at least, below is a Fangraphs piece from a couple years that goes into it, although they conclude it's not illegal), the actual rules are what MLB chooses to enforce.

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/is-pitch-framing-cheating/
 

Average Reds

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And how do you feel about 'pitch framing'? If MLB decides tomorrow that any catcher who moves their glove more than an inch after catching a pitch should be punished because it helps pitchers too much, does that make every catcher in the history of baseball a 'cheater'?
This isn't a difficult issue and all the "whataboutisms” in the world won't change it.

The rules on what is allowable for pitchers is known and unchanged. Notwithstanding this fact, pitchers have been trying to doctor the ball for more than 100 years in an attempt to get an edge. In recent years, these efforts went so far that they fundamentally changed the nature of the game, which forced a reaction from MLB.

We can debate how we got here and whether it's good or bad, but conjuring up false equivalencies to distract from reality is silly.
 

OurF'ingCity

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And how do you feel about 'pitch framing'? If MLB decides tomorrow that any catcher who moves their glove more than an inch after catching a pitch should be punished because it helps pitchers too much, does that make every catcher in the history of baseball a 'cheater'?
I don't think pitchers who doctored the ball in the past should be considered "cheaters" in the sense that their statistics should get an "asterisk" or anything like that - and I'd say the same about steroid use. But I also don't think "X used to be legal and my performance is going to suffer/I'm going to sustain more injuries if X isn't legal" is a valid reason not to enforce a given rule - which seems to be what Glasnow is insinuating.

Edit: the more obvious analogue isn't pitch framing but the rule that pitchers must pitch within 12 seconds of receiving the ball. That rule isn't enforced at all. So for that reason I'd obviously never suggest that everyone who takes longer than 12 seconds to pitch (which may very well be the vast majority of pitchers) is a cheater, but if MLB announced it was going to start strictly enforcing that rule I wouldn't have much sympathy if pitchers started complaining that being required to pitch faster would put more strain on their arms or something.
 
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geoduck no quahog

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I've mentioned a few times that IMO pitchers and MLB share in the blame over what this issue has become. I also think that MLB needs to stop fucking around with the baseballs. They bought that factory that makes the balls and are frequently dicking around with the single most important piece of equipment in the game. What other sport has done that? Trends in the game have affected it and lately MLB's answer is to change the ball. Perhaps this is a different argument, but I see some degree of legitimacy in players pushing back about the balls. I may be misremembering, but weren't there an increase in complaints over blisters a few years back because of the stitching?
Agree.

MLB should design a baseball that's easier to grip - supplemented by rosin that can dry a pitcher's hand. Then strictly enforce the foreign substances/doctoring rule.

As Red said - this should NOT be done in the middle of a season, when MLB had every opportunity to address this last November.
 

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Look at it another way: MLB (& the players) knew this was a problem last off-season and issued a warning. Should MLB have come down like a ton of bricks on everyone when the season started? Then wouldn’t everyone be complaining that the league moved too quickly and aggressively without really understanding the issue.

Don’t get me wrong, I lay most of the blame on MLB for not being able to sort out the ball and generally letting the issue of gunk get so out of hand, but at least they’re trying to fix it. I don’t think the players should be demonized (and I’m sure the league is hoping for a bit of that going into the CBA negotiations), but that’s different from absolving them, or caving and saying that this just can’t be fixed in-season. That basically comes down to the players being warned, blowing off the warning, and when it’s followed by actual enforcement, saying “you can’t possibly enforce this because we ignored your warning and have been playing this way for 2 months!”
 

staz

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Look at it another way: MLB (& the players) knew this was a problem last off-season and issued a warning. Should MLB have come down like a ton of bricks on everyone when the season started? Then wouldn’t everyone be complaining that the league moved too quickly and aggressively without really understanding the issue.

Don’t get me wrong, I lay most of the blame on MLB for not being able to sort out the ball and generally letting the issue of gunk get so out of hand, but at least they’re trying to fix it. I don’t think the players should be demonized (and I’m sure the league is hoping for a bit of that going into the CBA negotiations), but that’s different from absolving them, or caving and saying that this just can’t be fixed in-season. That basically comes down to the players being warned, blowing off the warning, and when it’s followed by actual enforcement, saying “you can’t possibly enforce this because we ignored your warning and have been playing this way for 2 months!”
It's a shit show. Of course, a large part of the problem is the existence of written, yet unenforced rules in the first place. Since instant replay, leagues and fans have come to expect definitive evidence of truth or falsehood at every turn: safe/out, goal/no goal, two feet down/not. So it seems incredibly out of place that in the modern league like MLB, some rules are strictly enforced and others aren't.
 

Sausage in Section 17

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If I'm not mistaken, they are not allowed to replace that spot on the roster. If this is the case, it does alter strategies.
This is correct, and is not being given enough attention. Any team with a suspended player will be short one roster spot for the duration of the suspension. I like this because it creates a significant competitive penalty to any team caught doing this, which encourages accountability from within.

I bet the union hates that part, too. Both for player safety, and money reasons.

-edit I forgot the suspensions are with pay, so I guess that makes the money part moot.
 
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jon abbey

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Cole threw the hardest pitch he has since 2013 on his 103rd pitch, 101.5.
 

djbayko

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The rule changes should not have come in the middle of the season. It is the wrong way to go about it. It has to happen in the offseason so pitchers have some time to adjust to gripping the baseball differently. MLB may have mentioned it in the offseason, but there was no incentive to change because there were no penalties for doing so. I put all the blame on MLB here.
Completely agree with this. Enforcement of such a drastic change should begin Game 1, not Game 70.
 

DeadlySplitter

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Crossposting from our gamethread, Garrett Richards struggled tonight (no curveballs at all) and found the new grip hard on him as well. The following is tweets recapping his postgame quotes:

Garrett Richards on the timing of the new foreign substance rules: "I can't think of a worse time, to be honest with you."
Garrett Richards: "I'm just grateful I got this far into my career before they decided to do this (with the foreign substance stuff)."
Richards said the rosin bag "does nothing" and is "completely useless." He is very unhappy with these new MLB rules.
Richards says he cannot remember a game where he had to grip a ball harder than he did tonight. Agrees with Glasnow's assessment on injury risk. "There's going to be lots of adjustments made."
Garrett Richards said he basically abandoned breaking balls tonight because he couldn't grip them effectively. So a fastball-heavy approach was all he had. Said he may have to develop a new pitch (changeup?).
 

brandonchristensen

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Crossposting from our gamethread, Garrett Richards struggled tonight (no curveballs at all) and found the new grip hard on him as well. The following is tweets recapping his postgame quotes:

Garrett Richards on the timing of the new foreign substance rules: "I can't think of a worse time, to be honest with you."
Garrett Richards: "I'm just grateful I got this far into my career before they decided to do this (with the foreign substance stuff)."
Richards said the rosin bag "does nothing" and is "completely useless." He is very unhappy with these new MLB rules.
Richards says he cannot remember a game where he had to grip a ball harder than he did tonight. Agrees with Glasnow's assessment on injury risk. "There's going to be lots of adjustments made."
Garrett Richards said he basically abandoned breaking balls tonight because he couldn't grip them effectively. So a fastball-heavy approach was all he had. Said he may have to develop a new pitch (changeup?).
That’s a $10M attitude.
 

JCizzle

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That’s a $10M attitude.
If you’d like a $300M attitude, here’s pathetic whiner Gerrit Cole:

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/31648928/new-york-yankees-gerrit-cole-struggles-grip-tells-mlb-just-talk-us

Cole added: "We are aligned in a lot of areas with the commissioner's office on this. ... Please, just talk to us, please just work with us. I know you have the hammer here. But we've been living in a gray area for so long. I would just hate to see players get hurt. I would hate to see balls start flying at people's head. I had a really tough time gripping the baseball tonight, especially early when it was windy. I don't really care to be inflammatory here, so I am just going to leave it at that."
Please just let me keep cheating. PLEASE!
 

BaseballJones

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I mean, I'm in total agreement that this should have been enforced in the offseason and allowed pitchers all of spring training to get used to it. That's on MLB. But come on....guys have pitched in the major leagues for like 140 years without this stuff and done just fine.

Cole's comment, "I would hate to see balls start flying at people's head..." - yeah so would I. So don't try to throw as HARD and instead try to PITCH with accuracy. Guys back in the day (which was like, not long ago) did just fine with control.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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If you’d like a $300M attitude, here’s pathetic whiner Gerrit Cole:

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/31648928/new-york-yankees-gerrit-cole-struggles-grip-tells-mlb-just-talk-us



Please just let me keep cheating. PLEASE!
The "balls flying at people's heads" part of the argument is stupid. Cole may have been "struggling" with his grip last night, but he didn't come close to hitting anyone. In fact, he was quite effective. And efficient. He went 8 innings. Something he's only done one other time this season. Seems like the only thing his lack of grip caused was a decrease in RPMs and perhaps a related drop in Ks. Notably, he did get 15 swing and misses, which is just about in line with his norm. Basically, it's all in his fucking head.
 

joe dokes

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The "balls flying at people's heads" part of the argument is stupid. Cole may have been "struggling" with his grip last night, but he didn't come close to hitting anyone. In fact, he was quite effective. And efficient. He went 8 innings. Something he's only done one other time this season. Seems like the only thing his lack of grip caused was a decrease in RPMs and perhaps a related drop in Ks. Notably, he did get 15 swing and misses, which is just about in line with his norm. Basically, it's all in his fucking head.
Conversely, Garret Richards smoked two guys in the same inning; his second and third HBP of the year.
I mean, I'm in total agreement that this should have been enforced in the offseason and allowed pitchers all of spring training to get used to it. That's on MLB. But come on....guys have pitched in the major leagues for like 140 years without this stuff and done just fine.
Cole's comment, "I would hate to see balls start flying at people's head..." - yeah so would I. So don't try to throw as HARD and instead try to PITCH with accuracy. Guys back in the day (which was like, not long ago) did just fine with control.
The bolded is the right response, IMO. For as long as I've been watching baseball, commentators, analysts and observers have noted something along the lines of, "he can really hump it up to get the extra few feet on the fastball, but when he does that, his control suffers." Pitchers have gotten used to throwing as hard as they can, or torquing a curve as hard as humanly possible with no corresponding loss of control.
 

JCizzle

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The bolded is the right response, IMO. For as long as I've been watching baseball, commentators, analysts and observers have noted something along the lines of, "he can really hump it up to get the extra few feet on the fastball, but when he does that, his control suffers." Pitchers have gotten used to throwing as hard as they can, or torquing a curve as hard as humanly possible with no corresponding loss of control.
Yep, I think this is the right approach.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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I've mentioned a few times that IMO pitchers and MLB share in the blame over what this issue has become. I also think that MLB needs to stop fucking around with the baseballs. They bought that factory that makes the balls and are frequently dicking around with the single most important piece of equipment in the game. What other sport has done that? Trends in the game have affected it and lately MLB's answer is to change the ball. Perhaps this is a different argument, but I see some degree of legitimacy in players pushing back about the balls. I may be misremembering, but weren't there an increase in complaints over blisters a few years back because of the stitching?
About 15 years ago the NBA unilaterally announced a new synthetic ball to replace the classic leather ball. This was at a time when David Stern was really feeling himself. Didn't really consult the players and they all hated it, despite his insistence that it was the greatest ball ever created. It didn't bounce right, was slippery when wet, and was reportedly tearing up guys' fingers.

Took less than half a season for the league to admit it had fucked up and that they would go back to the old ball. While the MLBPA is stronger, of course, the NBA players have more star power, media attention, etc. Not to mention that the average Joe is far more likely to have been using the "standard" NBA ball themselves since childhood, so from a business standpoint it didn't really behoove the league/Spalding to have their product continually tarred and feathered.
 

cornwalls@6

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I mean, I'm in total agreement that this should have been enforced in the offseason and allowed pitchers all of spring training to get used to it. That's on MLB. But come on....guys have pitched in the major leagues for like 140 years without this stuff and done just fine.

Cole's comment, "I would hate to see balls start flying at people's head..." - yeah so would I. So don't try to throw as HARD and instead try to PITCH with accuracy. Guys back in the day (which was like, not long ago) did just fine with control.
Playing devil's advocate, an argument against this would be that hitters now have such a high degree of strength and bat speed, almost certainly chemically enhanced in many cases, that throwing reduced velocity strikes to many of them would be tantamount to batting practice. If you believe, as I do, that PEDS are always running out ahead of testing, asking pitchers to dial down their velocity seems like competitive imbalance. I'm still in general favor of cracking down on whatever substances directly increase spin rate to an almost absurd degree, but more thought should have been given to continuing to allow substances that improve grip, but don't substantially put action on the ball. And I have definitely come around to the idea that enforcing this mid-season is very ill-conceived. And that 2022 is when this should have started.
 

BaseballJones

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Playing devil's advocate, an argument against this would be that hitters now have such a high degree of strength and bat speed, almost certainly chemically enhanced in many cases, that throwing reduced velocity strikes to many of them would be tantamount to batting practice. If you believe, as I do, that PEDS are always running out ahead of testing, asking pitchers to dial down their velocity seems like competitive imbalance. I'm still in general favor of cracking down on whatever substances directly increase spin rate to an almost absurd degree, but more thought should have been given to continuing to allow substances that improve grip, but don't substantially put action on the ball. And I have definitely come around to the idea that enforcing this mid-season is very ill-conceived. And that 2022 is when this should have started.
Agreed on 2022. Or at least this past offseason.

But the counter to your argument is to de-juice the ball or call the entire strike zone.

Rosin has worked for generations of ball players. No reason why it wouldn’t work now except that pitchers are so used to the “extra” stuff that bow to them rosin seems useless. Well...adjust to it.
 

cornwalls@6

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Agreed on 2022. Or at least this past offseason.

But the counter to your argument is to de-juice the ball or call the entire strike zone.

Rosin has worked for generations of ball players. No reason why it wouldn’t work now except that pitchers are so used to the “extra” stuff that bow to them rosin seems useless. Well...adjust to it.
Fair points, but I do think the strength of hitters is now such that, and this is purely anecdotal, that we're seeing a lot more hard/deep contact on balls on the margins, or even out of the strike zone. And Richard's comments last night, and those of others, would suggest that rosin is not a very effective grip aid. And do we really know that generations of pitchers were only using it?
 

Cesar Crespo

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Playing devil's advocate, an argument against this would be that hitters now have such a high degree of strength and bat speed, almost certainly chemically enhanced in many cases, that throwing reduced velocity strikes to many of them would be tantamount to batting practice. If you believe, as I do, that PEDS are always running out ahead of testing, asking pitchers to dial down their velocity seems like competitive imbalance. I'm still in general favor of cracking down on whatever substances directly increase spin rate to an almost absurd degree, but more thought should have been given to continuing to allow substances that improve grip, but don't substantially put action on the ball. And I have definitely come around to the idea that enforcing this mid-season is very ill-conceived. And that 2022 is when this should have started.
Do you think a higher percentage of hitters are on PEDS than pitchers? It's also possible pitchers use just as frequently but it's less beneficial, so the playing field still wouldn't be equal.
 

cornwalls@6

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Do you think a higher percentage of hitters are on PEDS than pitchers? It's also possible pitchers use just as frequently but it's less beneficial, so the playing field still wouldn't be equal.
That's a good question. Don't really know, but would venture a guess the % is close. As you alluded to, maybe the effects of PEDs is more pronounced, or effective on hitting than pitching? I suppose we'll get more raw data for speculation as the sticky ban is enforced, and if we then see consistent, across the board decreases in velocity and spin rate. Assuming the % of pitchers who use are still doing so, maybe we get some some possible answers about how effective they have been for pitchers?
 

catomatic

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Keep the Rosin bag, allow Sunblock. Hell, give every pitcher a little .5 oz tin of pine tar delivered to the mound by the umpire when they take the hill. Everybody gets the same amount and can use it as little or as much as they feel they need. Starters get a new one after three innings of work, or whatever. I like a good Yakker. And I think hitters are in favor of pitchers having control.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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Pine tar is for batters only; they can increase their grip on the bat in order to help their performance and bat speed and it helps maintain a safer playing field so they don't lose control of the bat. Wait...
 

Kliq

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Crossposting from our gamethread, Garrett Richards struggled tonight (no curveballs at all) and found the new grip hard on him as well. The following is tweets recapping his postgame quotes:

Garrett Richards on the timing of the new foreign substance rules: "I can't think of a worse time, to be honest with you."
Garrett Richards: "I'm just grateful I got this far into my career before they decided to do this (with the foreign substance stuff)."
Richards said the rosin bag "does nothing" and is "completely useless." He is very unhappy with these new MLB rules.
Richards says he cannot remember a game where he had to grip a ball harder than he did tonight. Agrees with Glasnow's assessment on injury risk. "There's going to be lots of adjustments made."
Garrett Richards said he basically abandoned breaking balls tonight because he couldn't grip them effectively. So a fastball-heavy approach was all he had. Said he may have to develop a new pitch (changeup?).
Richards is due for his typical season-ending injury so he has his excuse all lined up. Similar to Glasnow, he's extremely injury prone so it will be hard to tell if he does get hurt if losing the substance was a factor.
 

BaseballJones

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Fair points, but I do think the strength of hitters is now such that, and this is purely anecdotal, that we're seeing a lot more hard/deep contact on balls on the margins, or even out of the strike zone. And Richard's comments last night, and those of others, would suggest that rosin is not a very effective grip aid. And do we really know that generations of pitchers were only using it?
It was perfectly fine for pitchers up til this group that has been using “extra” stuff to get crazy spin. It’s like if you drive a Honda all your life it’s perfectly fine but if you’ve driven a Porsche all your life suddenly a Honda is unacceptable.
 

catomatic

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Pine tar is for batters only; they can increase their grip on the bat in order to help their performance and bat speed and it helps maintain a safer playing field so they don't lose control of the bat. Wait...
Actually, no. Pitchers have stashed the stuff on their caps, belt buckles, etc. for years. Then-Yankee, Michael Pineda put a too-visible swath of it on his neck in a game against the Red Sox and got himself ejected for it.
 

pk1627

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A better approach would be to understand rosin isn’t enough at these pitch velocities and to standardize a grip enhancer. I understand it’s hard to enforce.

we are going to see some double digit games. My sense is it favors a team like the Sox who are a good hitting club. But man are we going to cycle through some pitchers.
 

OurF'ingCity

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I don't think the "this rule change is designed to prevent cheating" is really the right paradigm in which to view this change. I think instead the proper understanding is "we are making it a bit harder on pitchers to strike people out by enforcing a rule that wasn't previously enforced, because strikeouts and low levels of offense were getting out of control."

So for the pitchers complaining that their jobs are now harder - yes, that's precisely the point. And in terms of the suggestions that this will cause more injuries, as noted I don't really see that as a valid reason not to make the change. I do kind of agree with those asking why the change had to occur in the middle of the year, though - pitchers now are basically going to need to adjust their pitching approach on the fly, which is probably going to result in some weird games and performances in the short term.