A Twitterstorm from Indians starter Trevor Bauer -- and ensuing replies from some Astros players -- took some of our off-field attention on Tuesday. , but the basic summary is that Bauer insinuated the Astros are increasing spin rates on their pitches by using foreign substances without any specific accusation. He also points out he has proof that pine tar increases spin rates.
Bauer spoke at length with reporters on Wednesday and here's a big portion of it for those interested.
There are lots of sensible and reasonable points in there, even if, no, I don't agree that substances should be legal. Players are striking out a record paces these days. We don't need to make anything easier on pitchers. If anything, the umpires should better enforce the rules.
Also, in the middle of a thoughtful response he throws in "69 percent," because he has an affinity for sophomoric humor and loves to. I, for one, admire it.
Let's dig in on this part, though:
Bauer's 4-seamer had a spin rate of 2,597 RPM in 1st inning of last start, compared to a 2,294 season average. Had "no comment" on whether he used a substance on the ball, but noted that his research shows a 200-300 RPM jump on higher-velocity pitches when a substance is used.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 2, 2018
What? Come again?
So that looks like his average fastball spin rate jumped in just the first inning last start nearly 300 rpm and he offers up a "no comment" after going on a several-hundred word explanation about the use of pine tar?
Read the tea leaves here. Tuesday on Twitter, Bauer was saying over and over he's done research and could prove spin rate on fastballs increased upwards of 300 rpm when using pine tar. All of this after he improved his own spin rate by 200-300 RPM the day before in the first inning of his start against the Rangers.
One could reasonably wonder if he used pine tar in the first inning just to prove himself right.
This would be Bauer to a T for anyone who has been paying attention these last few years. Why wouldn't he want to show us instead of just telling us? And he's so sure that he's right. It makes total sense that he would do this and then let everyone notice and just throw out a "no comment" instead of admitting he did it. He can't flat-out admit it. Hell, he just somewhat even compared it to PED usage.
Don't expect the discussion to die down anytime soon. Everyone is talking about it. MLB surely will have internal discussions on dealing with pitchers using foreign substances and we might even see a crackdown in the coming weeks.
In the near term, Bauer is lined up to face the Astros in Houston on May 18. Unless there's a rotation shakeup, injury or postponement before then, that's a pretty juicy matchup for everyone to look forward to.