Monday, January 24

Cardinals’ Mike Shildt says umpires picked the wrong time and pitcher to vent MLB’s’ dirty little secret ‘

Mike Shildt didn’t give a name Wednesday, but he wants real cheaters to face MLB scrutiny, not one of their pitchers who he says is clean.

Shildt was upset that the umpire team told right-hander Giovanny Gallegos to change his cap right after Gallegos took the mound in the seventh inning against the White Sox. The cap had … something dark on the bill. Shildt said it could have been a mixture of sunscreen, rosin and dirt, but not pine tar or other adhesives that baseball wants pitchers to stop using.

“So why do I make an exception for (the Gallegos cap)? Because this is baseball’s dirty little secret, and it’s the wrong time and arena to expose it,” Shildt said in his post-game Zoom call with reporters. Shildt said referee Joe West went to Gallegos after his colleague Dan Bellino said something to him. West expelled Shildt for arguing.

Gallegos donned a new cap and then retired all five batters he faced with three strikeouts. The umpires confiscated the old cap and MLB will examine it.

(Fake images)

Illegal substances in MLB are an open secret, in the eyes of Shildt and other baseball people. The St. Louis captain said some pitchers who handle the ball don’t even bother to be discreet.

“Major League Baseball has a very, very, very difficult position here because there are people who actually, and they don’t even try to hide it, essentially make the league poke fun at the way they cheat in this game with made-up substances.” ” he said.

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MLB in March hired monitors for all 30 stadiums; your job is to check for possible infractions. He also instructed the referees to send suspicious-looking balls and other equipment for inspection. The Gallegos cap would seem to fall into that category. In addition, it announced that it would begin using historical data from Statcast to help detect unusual changes in the spin speeds of launchers.

Shildt said MLB took this approach so as not to “create any black eyes for the integrity of the game we love.” But then he pivoted to defend the integrity of non-cheating players, and this is where he came closest to calling out players.

“What about the guys who are throwing their tails in the majors and making it clean that they have (to face) an unfair competitive advantage for the guys who are clearly loading themselves with concoctions that are actually advertising, doing nothing to hide even in plain sight? ”Shildt said. “Those are the guys I’m talking about. I’m talking about the hitters who make their living to tackle things that are already very, very good and you can see from the spin rates how the guys’ runs they’re jumping off the charts, and then you can do cause and effect. “

“Look, is our house 100 percent clean? I certainly hope so,” Shildt said. “Am I creating more awareness in our group? Potentially. But let’s go see the guys that are sitting there going to his glove every day with dirty things coming out, not a guy before he’s stepped on the mound with a stain on it. his hat. Is this how we want to start monitoring this? “

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Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer has been saying since 2018 that pine tar and other adhesives give pitchers an unfair advantage and that MLB should enforce the rules or legalize the sticky stuff.

Pine tar and other substances, such as Pelican Grip, improve the pitcher’s grip, which translates into higher turning speeds on pitches. Higher spin speeds (expressed in rpm) decrease sink in a four-seam fastball and increase bite on a breaking ball, making both pitches more difficult for hitters to hit.

Three years ago, Bauer made a cryptic tweet about the Astros, pine tar, and spin rates; the baseball world assumed he was referring to former UCLA teammate Gerrit Cole, whose spin rate soared after the Astros acquired him in a trade the previous offseason.

Cole posted a 2.68 ERA and 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings in his two seasons with Houston (2018-19) and then signed a nine-year, $ 324 million deal with the Yankees before the 2020 season.

Bauer has spoken extensively, including to Sporting News, about his offseason experiments with tacky stuff. He told HBO in February that he believes that about 70 percent of MLB pitchers use illegal substances.

He said in an April YouTube post that MLB’s enforcement efforts would not deter anyone. At the time, he was responding to a report from The Athletic that referees removed balls from one of his openings to check their grip. Bauer questioned how MLB can accurately determine whether a pitcher has tampered with a ball, given that it can pick up pine tar from outfield bats and gloves.

According to Baseball Savant, Bauer leads the MLB with an average spindle speed of 2,844 rpm on his four-seam machine. A look at the spin rates of the top 10 starting pitchers (three Dodgers are in the group):

Higher four-seam fastball spin speeds, SP

Pitcher Team Rate (rpm)
Trevor bauer Dodgers 2844
Walker Buehler Dodgers 2629
Dylan quit white sock 2613
Garrett richards red stockings 2582
Mike minor royalty 2564
Gerrit cole Yankees 2564
Joe musgrove Fathers 2563
Clayton kershaw Dodgers 2559
Yu darvish Fathers 2553
Dylan bundy Angels 2553

(Source: Baseball Savant. Until May 25. Minimum 100 four-seam fastballs).

Shildt said hitters want pitchers to have a better grip on the ball and that they are fine with the sunscreen, rosin and dirt compound. They want MLB to get blatantly illegal (and more powerful) materials out of the hands of pitchers.

“Hitters don’t care about grip; they don’t want the things that make the ball do Wiffle Ball things,” he said.

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