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MLB Notebook: Baseball's spin doctors have been hard at work

Profile Picture: Andrew Champagne

June 10th, 2021

This past week in baseball has been anything but quiet. Unfortunately for MLB, that’s due to reasons nobody would wish upon the spot, and while we’ve got a few things to talk about in this week’s roundup, the issue of ball-doctoring is tops on the list.

Spin Doctors

MLB has announced a significant crackdown on substances that can affect the way a pitched baseball reacts. Of the many noteworthy reactions over the past few days, perhaps the most striking was that of New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who attempted to dance around the question of if he’d ever used a particular substance and instead fell flat on his face in the eyes of many who saw the interview.

Scuffing up the ball is nothing new. Several pitchers who admitted to egregiously doctoring the ball, such as Gaylord Perry and Whitey Ford, are in the Hall of Fame. Combine ridiculous spin rates on pitches with historically-low offensive numbers, though, and you get a scenario in which MLB felt compelled to take action.

This is obviously a developing story, and more updates will follow in the weeks and months ahead.

Rays of Light (Hitting)

As of this writing, the Tampa Bay Rays are hitting just .229 as a team. Several regulars in the lineup are at or below the dreaded Mendoza Line, and you’d think that would bode poorly for the squad. Not so, however, as Tampa Bay has fashioned a 39-24 record and sits atop the AL East going into the summer.

For as poor as Tampa Bay’s offense has been at times, their pitching has been spot-on. Ace starter Tyler Glasnow has 117 strikeouts in 84 innings and has posted a microscopic 0.93 WHIP. As a staff, the Rays are averaging more than a strikeout an inning, and that makes any offensive shortcomings significantly more palatable.

Tampa Bay’s success has not gone unnoticed, and they’re down to +1600 to win the 2021 World Series. That makes them the co-sixth choice behind the Dodgers, White Sox, Padres, Mets, and Yankees.

World Series 2021

Tue, November 2 2021, 11:00 PM

Los Angeles Dodgers

+350

Chicago White Sox

+650

San Diego Padres

+700

New York Mets

+950

New York Yankees

+1200

Tampa Bay Rays

+1600

Houston Astros

+1600

Oakland Athletics

+2000

Atlanta Braves

+2100

Boston Red Sox

+2200

Road Warriors? Hardly

The Arizona Diamondbacks have been snakebitten (pun absolutely intended) away from home this year, and they own one of baseball’s ugliest streaks. Following Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics, the D-Backs have now lost 19 straight road games, good for the longest such skid by an MLB team since 1985.

Castellanos Continues Scorching Season

It might be going unnoticed by many, as the Cincinnati Reds are a .500 team that don’t draw many headlines. However, Nick Castellanos currently paces the National League with a .355 batting average, and he stretched a recent hitting streak to 21 games before going hitless at St. Louis Sunday.

He has since bounced back, though, with two doubles in as many games against Milwaukee.

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