BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — His spin rate down, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole said he had difficulty gripping baseballs on a windy night as he beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2.
Cole’s fastball spin rate averaged 2,342 revolutions per minute Wednesday, according to the MLB Statcast, down from 2,496 on June 9; 2,439 on June 3; 2,529 on May 28 and 2,544 on May 22.
His curveball averaged 2,695, down from 2,838 on June 9; 2,763 on June 3; 2,807 on May 28 and 2,825 on May 22.
Major League Baseball started talking June 3 of a crackdown on use of illegal foreign substances to doctor baseballs and told teams on Tuesday that pitchers will be ejected and suspended for 10 games for violations starting Monday.
“It’s so hard to grip the ball,” Cole said. “I mean, for Pete’s sake, it’s part of the reason why almost every player on the field has something, regardless if they’re a pitcher or not, to help them help control the ball. I don’t have a solution, but again, we are aligned in a lot of areas with the commissioner’s office on this, and please just talk to us, please just work with us. I know you have the hammer here, but we’ve been living in a gray area for so long, I would just hate to see players get hurt. I would I hate to see balls start flying at people’s heads. I had a really tough time gripping the baseball tonight, especially early when it was windy.”
Cole allowed two runs and four hits in eight innings, giving up solo homers to Marcus Semien in the first and Cavan Biggio in the sixth. Cole had a season-low four strikeouts and one walk. He is 8-3 with a 2.31 ERA and 117 strikeouts with 12 walks in 89 2/3 innings.
“We’re all just trying to — all just trying to play by the rules, play by what the commissioner’s handed out going forward,” Cole said. “Spin rate is not everything. You can still pitch well if you don’t have a high spin rate.”
In the second season of a $324 million, nine-year contract, a record deal for a pitcher, Cole is among eight players on the executive subcommittee of the Major League Baseball Players Association.
“We’ve heard from the commissioner’s office about a universal substance, I certainly think that’s something to be discussed,” he said.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was at the game, but Cole did not speak with him.
“Probably not the right time to have a discussion with Rob before I’m going to go pitch,” Cole said.
He dodged a question last week about whether he had ever used a Spider Tack, a sticky substance designed for use by Strongman competitors.
He called Tampa Bay pitcher Tyler Glasnow, who was diagnosed Tuesday with a partially torn elbow ligament and attributed his injury to adapting ahead of stepped up enforcement. Cole said he initiated the call after hearing about Glasnow from Yankees teammate Jameson Taillon.
“I feel for the guy in that situation,” Cole said. “We’re all out there trying to compete, and he’s working his tail off trying to compete for his team and it’s just an unfortunate, it’s just — yeah, man, that’s a bummer.”
“The customs and practices of the last 20, 30 years in this league are one thing and then to make a drastic change in the middle of the season is going to be challenging for a lot of people,” Cole added. “I am a little concerned of injuries, especially after talking to Tyler. And I hope that we can apply some feel to the situation. The players on the union calls — we all have, again, quite a strong consensus on I think where we believe this should go, and I would encourage the commissioner’s office to continue to talk with us, please, because we’re the ones that throw the ball. They don’t. And we’re the experts in this situation, and we’re aligned in terms of intent with the commissioner’s office as well.”
Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, the reigning AL batting champion, is pleased with the crackdown. He is hitting .261, down from .364 last year.
“I’m kind of glad everyone’s on the same level now,” he said Thursday. “I’ve seen some pitches this year that I’ve never seen in my whole career. ... For some reason this year, it just seemed to really, really jump, the kind of stuff guys are throwing up there at us.”
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