Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer, while saying he never accused the Houston Astros of cheating, has doubled down on his belief that major league pitchers are using "sticky substances" to increase spin rates of baseballs.
Bauer traded social media barbs with Astros players on Tuesday after a comment Bauer made on Twitter, while replying to a thread from a user who was curious as to why it appeared the spin rate of pitches made by Houston's pitchers had increased this season, seemed to imply that Astros pitchers were cheating.
If only there was just a really quick way to increase spin rate. Like what if you could trade for a player knowing that you could bump his spin rate a couple hundred rpm overnight...imagine the steals you could get on the trade market! If only that existed...— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) May 1, 2018
On Wednesday, Bauer released a lengthy statement saying he wanted to "make it abundantly clear and not mince words" that he had "no problem" with the Astros or "any other organization in the league."
Bauer, however, did say that Major League Baseball has a problem regarding pitchers using sticky substances to increase spin rates, and that MLB should allow pitchers to use those substances.
"Allow it," Bauer said. "I don't see that there's a way to enforce it. Because you can't go check a pitcher every single inning, every single pitch. And that's currently how it is. You can get thrown out of a game and suspended for it if an umpire comes out and checks and finds out. But it doesn't happen.
"So, pick a substance that's sticky, that gives you all the performance benefits and just put it on the back of the mound. That way if you want to use it you can. And everybody knows it's being used. And if you want to use other substances and skirt the rule, whatever. Have a certain amount of outlawed substances, vaseline or whatever. But if you want to use sticky stuff, it's right there on the mound. Put your fingers on it and throw."
Bauer's father was an engineer, and Bauer adopted a scientific approach to becoming a ballplayer, trying to figure out how to use science to make himself a better pitcher. As a youngster at Hart High School in Santa Clarita, California, he took a class in Newtonian physics and developed an interest in what made a baseball spin.
"We might not have had the technology before to measure how sticky stuff affects the ball, how it spins, how it moves. But all that research is clear now," Bauer said Wednesday. "We know how it affects spin rate and we know how spin rate affects outcomes and pitches and movements that have a big difference in a game, a season and each individual player's career.
"And it's my opinion that it is the same argument that was used when steroids were going on in the game. If you just look the other way and you let some people do it, the people who chose not to do it are at a competitive disadvantage. And that's what's going on right now."
Bauer estimated that 69 percent of MLB pitchers use sticky substances to get a better grip on the ball.
"A lot of hitters are fine with it, because like it's been said, they don't want projectiles flying at 100 mph at their head and the pitcher has no clue where it's going," Bauer said in his statement. "... Just make it legal, so that way it's an even playing field. And that way, when I want to use surgical grade stuff on my stitches on the backside of a pinky finger that's never going to touch the ball and has no effect on the game at all, I can use it and not be thrown out of the game or whatever.
"Meanwhile, while I can't use that stuff so I can pitch for my team in the postseason, you have guys using sticky stuff every single time they pitch, increasing their spin rate by 200-300 rpm and having a massive competitive advantage."