Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer had several baseballs he used in yesterday’s game against the Oakland A’s sequestered and sent to MLB for inspection, per Ken Rosenthal. MLB sent out a memo in March threatening discipline against pitchers who added illegal substances to baseballs, and the Bauer balls were reported sticky and had markings on them.
This has been an ongoing issue for a while, as pitchers in recent years have widely been believed to have used substances to increase the spin rate on baseballs. Bauer carped publicly a couple of years ago about pitchers adding spin rate through such illicit methods, saying it was very easy to do, and then last year with the Cincinnati Reds saw his spin rate shoot up.
Cracking down on the use of substances to reduce spin rate would take some bite out of breaking balls and some of the rise out of four seamers, which would reduce the advantage pitchers have. That said, the slipperiness of a regular MLB baseball is such that many hitters supposedly want pitchers to be able to use something to improve their grip, as otherwise it makes pitches harder to control and potentially puts hitters in more danger of being hit.
I doubt anything will happen to Bauer over this, but it’s a reminder that MLB is watching this issue and is apparently trying to rein things in.