Someone might want to get Gerrit Cole to stop talking about baseball’s sticky stuff epidemic.
The New York Yankees ace has been uncomfortably forthright since Major League Baseball decided it was going to start cracking down on pitchers’ use of foreign substances. Cole became something of a poster boy for the fight last week when he awkwardly stumbled through a line of questioning about his sticky habits.
Most recently, the big right-hander was seemingly on the verge of tears Wednesday night when talking about MLB’s policing efforts. Cole pitched a tidy eight innings, allowing just two runs in a win over a very good Toronto Blue Jays lineup.
After the game, though, he got emotional when talking about it all.
It’s just kind of weird for a few reasons. Cole’s spin rate was way down Wednesday night, the latest in a growing line of evidence against him and his penchant for the goo. It’s quite clear, at this point, he was loading up the ball to give himself more grip.
The problem, though, is Cole’s postgame comments seem more geared at concern over being able to grip the ball — and not concern over being able to spin the ball. That makes sense. Complaining about not being able to grip the ball is at least more sympathetic than complaining over losing spin rate. The issue, though, is the increased use of things like Spider Tack and other adhesives, has directly coincided with the increased attention on spin rate, which pretty clearly makes pitches tougher to hit. To make this all about “grip” and not about performance is slightly disingenuous.
It’s even more eyeroll-inducing coming from someone like Cole. If he were throwing cue balls he’d still be a very good pitcher. But few, if any, have benefited more from taking this to the extreme than him. His career took off in Houston, and he was able to leverage that into a $324 million (guaranteed) contract with the Yankees.
It’s admittedly hard to have empathy for someone making that much money, especially when they benefited from bending the rules.
The other crazy thing about all of this? Cole actually pitched a gem Wednesday night, allowing just the two runs on four hits while striking out four. One would think that should be good enough.
The Yankees starter is far from alone, though. Rays starter Tyler Glasnow wondered whether the crackdown on sticky stuff led to his elbow injury, while Red Sox pitcher Garrett Richards held court over the decision following Boston’s win in Atlanta on Wednesday night.