MLB pitchers file complaints about slippery baseballs

MLB pitchers file complaints about slippery baseballs

MLB pitchers file complaints about slippery baseballs

Michael Lorenzen

Michael Lorenzen
PhotoGetty Images

Today is the one year anniversary of MLB’s Ban on Sticky Substances† In that time we have seen a huge drop in spin rate, a some suspensionsplus one striptease or two from Max Scherzer and company. even most fans seemed to like the change† Yes sir, everything went according to plan for Rob Manfred and his company. They twisted their mustaches and stroked their goatees with devilish intentions as their plan unfolded. Now, in 2022, an unforeseen consequence of banning sticky substances is coming to the fore.

Three days ago, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Michael Lorenzen plunged his former teammate Justin Upton in the head with a 91 mph sinker. It was clearly not the intention. Lorenzen was filled with guilt after Upton had to leave the game. Lorenzen didn’t blame himself as much as he did blamed MLB’s “slippery” baseballs† Lorenzen is not the only one who has had enough.

Angels’ interim manager Phil Nevin expressed similar complaints after the game, “[Lorenzen] had a hard time getting hold of the ball if they weren’t rubbed like that. There’s only so much you can do when you get a ball on the mound.”

Among those who have expressed similar complaints are Lorenzen’s teammate Ryan Tepera, Toronto Blue Jays’ ace Kevin Gausman, Jays’ reliever Yimi Garcia, Mets’ starter Chris Bassitt, and 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray, whose dismay came during the same series as that of Lorenzen. After leading his Mariners to a win and carrying a no-hitter in the seventh inning, Ray said the balls were easier to grab earlier in the game than balls later in the game.

“I don’t know if they run out of roughened balls and they scramble to get more rubbed, but it seems the balls are smoother later in the game,” he said. He went on to explain that the balls in Seattle were among the smoothest he has encountered this season.

It is normal for balls to feel different in a pitcher’s hand in different stadiums. After all, every ball is sanded down by someone in the dugout before it reaches the field. Not every scuff-up will be exactly identical, and while there are certain standards that a scuff-up must meet before it meets the game requirements, it’s almost impossible for two balls to feel exactly the same everywhere. They’re snowflakes, thumbprints, or drunk texting your ex at 3 a.m., similar but not quite the same. That said, some pitchers feel that some balls feel so horribly wrong in the middle of games that something has to be done behind closed doors.

Ryan Fitzgerald is a minor league infielder in the Boston Red Sox organization. Although he was not a pitcher, Fitzgerald noticed something strange during his match against the Toledo Mud Hens on June 16† Minor League Baseball used two different types of balls during the game. Fitzgerald posted his discovery on his Instagram story, which was picked up by a few baseball content creators on various social media platforms, but was eventually covered up.

The balls in the video above are clearly very different. Not only does the ball look a lot more chafed on the left – although that could just be from more time on the field before being knocked out of play – but it seems like the seams are also more profuse (if that’s the right word). There just isn’t that much for a pitcher to grab with the ball on the right side.

This wouldn’t be the first time MLB has done something like this. Last year the league was caught using different types of balls in different baseball fields, based on whether they wanted more or fewer home runs. But what’s the point of having a ball with less grip in circulation this year?

Is it just to tighten the ban on sticky substances? I mean, it goes without saying that with how many times MLB players have found ways to get around the rules in the past, they will definitely do it again. After all, at the start of the season, the inspections were strengthened after it turned out that the use of sticky substances increased late last season when umpire inspections were relaxed. However, if that’s the case, why not just rely on the inspections. If the lack of grip puts players at serious risk, then shouldn’t that be the number one priority?

But is the lack of grip really a problem for pitchers? The number of walks has decreased from 2021. In fact, pitchers are walking less per game than they have in any season since 2016. Bats who hit have dropped to their lowest point since 2018. Wild throws have fallen to their lowest point since 2014. All these numbers indicate better control for pitchers, so why are pitchers saying it’s an epidemic that needs fixing?

MLB changed their balls after the 2021 season. In fact, MLB said in a memo that they would? only use balls made after 2021 during the 2022 season due to a production change. In a March 29 memo, MLB wrote to all 30 clubs: “Those production problems” [regarding deadened balls in 2021] have now been resolved and the 2022 season will be played with only balls manufactured after the 2021 production change. No production changes have been made for the 2022 season.”

While the feel of the ball may be different this season, and may not be a good fit for some pitchers, control stats have increased in 2022. While I believe that pitchers should only pitch when they feel comfortable, otherwise they endanger the batter, batters are not. the epidemic that several pitchers would have you believe it is this year.

That said, if MLB has gone behind the public’s back (again, as is sadly common), then they need to address the issue. Inconsistencies in the feel of a baseball mid-game can be devastating to a pitcher’s control. So if several balls with less grip are mixed with a batch of normal balls before each match, it will lead to a series of unfortunate events as the season progresses. However, we cannot say for sure that is the case. I like to believe the players. They tend to know something is weird before they even have a pull on their leash, but we can’t prove it. All we can do is bring the matter to light and hope MLB decides to do something about it. What a bouncy castle that is, isn’t it?