Major League Baseball said Tuesday it will enforce new guidelines around pitchers who use foreign substances on baseballs during games beginning June 21.
The league office announced it will allow umpires to regularly check pitchers for banned substances, even if clubs don’t request searches. Auxiliary throwers will be searched for foreign matter after the inning they pitched or when they are removed from games.
In addition, MLB said umpires will be urged to check pitchers when they notice that “the baseball has an unusually sticky feel to it, or when the umpire observes a pitcher leaning towards his glove, hat, belt, or any other part of his uniform or body.” to pick up or apply what may be a foreign substance.”
Players caught cheating will be kicked out of the game and suspended with payment for up to 10 games.
MLB investigated player complaints, collected data and tested balls used by all 30 clubs in the first two months of the season. It found that “there is a prevalence of foreign substance use by pitchers” at the MLB and Minor League levels.
Third-party research found that impacted baseballs have better spin rates and movement, which gives pitchers an “unfair competitive advantage over batters and pitchers who do not use foreign substances, and results in less action on the field.”
Pitchers dominated this season. Six no-hitters have already been thrown, which could break the 1884 record of eight no-hitters. Pitchers also hold batters to the lowest batting average since 1968. After more than 1,900 games this season, MLB hitters have a combined .238 average.
In a statement, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged “the history of using foreign substances on the ball, but what we see today is objectively very different, with much stickier substances being used more often than ever before.”
“It has become clear that the use of foreign substances has generally changed from trying to get a better grip on the ball to something else – an unfair competitive advantage that creates a lack of action and an uneven playing field,” he added. “This isn’t about an individual player or club, or putting the blame, it’s about a collective shift that has changed the game and needs to be addressed. We have a responsibility to our fans and the generational talent on the pitch. struggles to eliminate it.” fabrics and improving the game.”
Match umpires will also examine catchers and positional players if they observe “behaviour consistent with the thrower’s use of a foreign substance.” If players refuse referee checks, they will be removed from matches and suspended.
Teams are responsible for educating players about the rules. Club personnel may be placed on MLB’s ineligible list if they are caught encouraging or aiding players using sticky substances.
If players are suspended for on-field offenses, clubs will not be eligible to replace their place on the roster, the league said. MLB notified the players’ union of the new guidelines and may make further changes to penalties in the future.
“Major League Umpires support this initiative to eliminate the use of foreign substances in the game,” Bill Miller, president of the Major League Umpires Association, said in a statement. “The integrity of the league is of the utmost importance to us. We have worked hard with MLB to develop an enforcement system that treats all players and clubs equally.”
Read MLB’s full enforcement plan here.