Major League Baseball has formally acknowledged that it has a foreign substance issue with pitchers, and the league has issued a memo to teams outlining how it will be addressed.
MLB issued a press release on Tuesday outlining how rules prohibiting foreign substance use will be enforced. The memo described “brazen” violations of the rules and said the enhanced monitoring that was implemented at the start of the season has had “no impact on the behavior of many pitchers.” MLB stated that the use of foreign substances not only gives pitchers an unfair advantage, but is also a safety concern, as the substances lead to an increase in spin rate but a decrease in overall control.
The press release also outlined several ways in which foreign substance use will be monitored, beginning on June 21. One significant change is that pitchers will now be checked by the home plate umpire multiple times throughout games.
From MLB's guidance: "Starting pitchers will have more than one mandatory check per game, and each relief pitcher must be checked either at the conclusion of the inning in which he entered the game or when he is removed from the game, whichever occurs first."
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) June 15, 2021
If an umpire discovers that a player has used a foreign substance, the player will be ejected and suspended. While specific punishments were not outlined, MLB says the penalties will be more severe with each violation. The existing rule calls for a 10-game ban for a first violation.
One ex-MLB pitcher said this week that the baseballs themselves are part of the issue, but MLB did not mention any plans to address that.
Rules have been in place for quite some time to combat the use of foreign substances, but they obviously haven’t worked. MLB is hoping the new policies will be more effective.