After fumbling through a question about alleged use of illegal substances while pitching, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole was bound to draw plenty of attention for his Wednesday start against the Twins.
Cole was asked point-blank Tuesday by New York Post reporter Ken Davidoff if he used Spider Tack, a substance that is one of several believed to be used by pitchers to increase spin on their pitches. Cole’s response was a surprised non-answer.
So, what was his spin rate in his first trip to the mound since being put on the spot?
MORE: What to know about MLB’s sticky situation with pitchers and foreign substances
Well, not that much different from previous outings. According to data from Baseball Savant, his fastball was down 59 rpm, his slider down 87 rpm, his curveball up 5 rpm and his changeup up 125 rpm from his season average. In other words, the difference was miniscule.
|Pitch||Max spin||Min spin||Average spin||Average ’21 spin|
Several of Cole’s best pitches came against Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson, who on Sunday called out Cole for a lower spin rate in his previous start, which Cole made after four minor league pitchers received 10-game suspensions for using foreign substances.
Cole faced Donaldson three times Wednesday and threw four of his 11 hardest pitches of the night against him — including two of just four fastballs to exceed 100 mph. In the first inning, he struck out Donaldson on a curve that had the fifth-highest spin rate of the night at 2,901 rpm, and then stared him down.
Cole told reporters on his postgame Zoom call that conversations in clubhouses and players association calls would be the best way moving forward to deal with issues like sticky baseballs.
“I certainly think, you know, player vs. player-type things, certainly think there’s a way to go about those and especially in a bargaining year, there’s probably a smart way to go about it with a lot of the heat on us and obviously going into a situation where we can legislate some of the things that you mentioned, on-field rules and such, going into that situation, so hopefully we continue to have conversations in our clubhouse, we continue to have conversations on the union calls,” Cole said. He is a member of the MLBPA’s executive subcommittee. “You know that’s the forum to share your opinions and get on the same page about things, and so, I guess, just look to continue to use that to express how ultimately we see the future of this game going.”
Gerrit Cole discusses if he has concerns with how players discuss the foreign substance rules going forward
“Hopefully we continue to have conversations in our clubhouse, we continue to have conversations on the union calls…that’s the forum to share your opinions” pic.twitter.com/7qDesLONuH
— Yankees Videos (@snyyankees) June 10, 2021
Peak spin rates or not, Cole had no problem handling the rest of the Twins on Wednesday, either. He allowed two runs on five hits, with no walks and nine strikeouts, over six innings. The Yankees won 9-6.
The two runs came on solo home runs; the first to Jorge Polanco and the second to Miguel Sano. Polanco’s home run was on 98.3 mph fastball with a spin rate of 2,349 rpm, and Sano’s bomb was off a 97.9 mph fastball with a spin rate of 2,402 rpm.