Pitchers across baseball have been adjusting to life under MLB’s new foreign substance guidelines. Last week, the league sent out a memo to all 30 teams that they would be cracking down on the use of a variety of substances including products like Spider Tack, Pelican Grip and different combinations of pine tar, sunscreen and rosin.
The rules change took effect on Monday and as each pitcher entered the game or finished an inning, they were met by the umpires before entering the dugout
“We’ve got all the protocols and things we’ve got to go through to be prepared for the new kind of protocols that are in place,” manager David Ross said. “I think it’s a big wait and see for a lot of us. Guys are going to get checked. Guys are all aware of how it’s going to be done. We’ve passed out the memos, we’ve had the discussions. And now it’s just kind of in the umpire’s hands and we’ll see how it all goes down.”
Under the league’s new guidelines, players who are caught using foreign substances will be suspended for 10 games. Right-hander Adbert Alzolay, who pitched 4 2/3 innings on Monday, was the first Cubs pitcher to be checked under the league’s new rules and didn’t have any issues with the new process..
“It was pretty normal,” Alzolay said. “I guess that’s what MLB wants to do, so they just checked my hat, checked my glove and made sure everything was okay. But I feel it was normal. It was easy.
“[The umpires] are out there doing their job too, you know. They gotta make sure to follow the protocol, so I thought that they were fine with that too.”
As expected, the change has already been followed by a drop in spin rates around the game and as pitchers have to adjust, hitters will likely continue to see an increase in production, which had taken a dip this season.
“The information so far in the last 10 days, batting average has gone up, on base has gone up, slug has gone up,” Ross said. “Spin rates are down on fastballs and breaking balls and hit by pitches are exactly the same. So you draw your own conclusions.”
Rizzo gets the night off
First baseman Anthony Rizzo didn’t start the final game of the Cubs’ two-game set with the Indians on Tuesday. Ross has attempted to get players multiple days off on the back end of a series into a scheduled off day to get players an extra day’s rest. Rizzo is slashing .252/.347/.443 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs this season.
“He’s been going pretty hard,” Ross said. “I pencil him in pretty regularly and was trying to find him an off-day at some point and earmarked today if it looked like everybody else was healthy and we could have a pretty good lineup, it made sense to give him a day.”