New York Yankees: Gerrit Cole, did he or didn’t he use sticky stuff?

yankees, gerrit cole

The New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole has now been named again regarding using sticky substances to improve his pitching.

New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole is one of several star pitchers named in a lawsuit for using illegal ball-doctoring substances provided by a former visiting Angels clubhouse manager, per an article in Sports Illustrated.

Brain “Bubba” Harkins was fired in March of 2020 by the Los Angeles Angels after an investigation stated that he had been helping pitchers with the use of illegal ball-gripping substances. In January of this year, he filed a lawsuit against MLB and the Angels. The filing follows an attempt by the Angels and MLB to dismiss Harkins’ previous motion claiming defamation.

Harkins named multiple pitchers in his lawsuit that apparently used his “concoctions” to increase the ability to improve grip on the baseball when pitching. Among those mentioned were Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer, and the Yankee’s Corey Kluber and Gerrit Cole. In addition, several Angels pitchers were also named.

Now before the first game of the present Minnesota series at Target Field, the normally outspoken Josh Donaldson was having a public conversation on the use of illegal substances and went out of his way to single out Gerrit Cole. This amid an MLB crackdown on the use of foreign substances by pitchers.

When the New York Yankees arrived at Target Field, there was a video conference about the 3 game set with the Yankees. Gerrit Cole responding to reporter questions as to if he ever used Spider Tack (a particularly sticky paste to improve grip), Cole stumbled in answering. This is how he responded:

“I don’t know….. I don’t know….. I don’t quite know how to answer that, to be honest.” That was followed by a long pause and he continued: “There are customs and practices that have been passed down from older players to younger players, from the last generation of players to this generation of players, and I think there are some things that are certainly out of bounds in that regard.

“This is important to a lot of people who love the game, including the players in this room, including fans, including teams, so if MLB wants to legislate some more stuff, that’s a conversation that we can have. Because ultimately we should all be pulling in the same direction on this.”

After those comments, New York Yankees fans don’t know any more than they did before the comments. It is reasonable to assume that Cole, like many other pitchers, uses some substances at times to improve their pitching. Whether those substances are legal or not is a discussion to have with MLB.

Over the weekend, Buster Olney of ESPN reported that pitchers would be checked repeatedly and randomly by umpires for illegal substances under a new program being advanced by MLB.

In third baseman Donaldson’s wandering comments in which he mentioned Cole, he stated that Cole’s spin rate reduced dramatically after four minor league pitchers were suspended for using foreign substances. Donaldson suggested that Cole’s pitches weren’t rotating as much and that Cole was suddenly trying to hide his use of sticky substances to avoid being caught in the crackdown.

Sidestepping the accusation on Tuesday, and said: “My spin rate dropoff was due to mechanical flaws. I attribute it to just not being as good or as sharp as I wanted to be. It’s as simple as that,” Cole said. The Baseball Savant website stated the MLB Statcast data showed that Cole had a 125 rotations per minute decrease last week when he allowed five runs to the Tampa Bay Rays.

“I’m just not quite bringing out my best delivery. Of course it’s something that we monitor. Of course there are other variables that we monitor as well when we’re evaluating our performance from every game. You try to take as much information as you can as a player, and certainly that’s one of them,” Cole said. “We’re trying to get better this week and put in the work, and I’ll be as prepared as I possibly can for my next start.”

Last night before the game, Cole had nothing to say about Donaldson, but he let his pitching speak for itself. One would have to believe Cole, with the accusations, certainly would not have been using anything illegal. In three plate appearances against Cole, Donaldson flew out and struck out twice, with Cole glaring in at him with each strikeout.

If this story develops further, you will read about it on EmpireSportsMedia.com. Their Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. He can be followed on Twitter @parleewilliam.

Why the New York Mets Should Make a Run at Josh Donaldson

New York Mets, Josh Donaldson

Over the past few days, there has been plenty of noise surrounding the potential trade of Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies. Despite how good it would look to put an MVP candidate at third base, the New York Mets should put their focus on Josh Donaldson.

Arenado is undoubtedly one of the best third basemen of his generation, but the ramifications of the trade could hurt the Mets more than it helps. The Mets would be forced to give up more than Arenado is valued, when another quality third baseman is right under their nose.

Arenado is also due at least $35 million per year until the end of the 2025 season. For an organization that hopes to have their starting pitching and sluggers like Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto in their plans, the money will not be in place to keep the crew together.

Quality over Quantity

This is where Donaldson comes into play. He very quietly homered 37 times and had an OPS of .900. Since Donaldson is a free agent, there is nothing for the Mets to give up in place for him. Not to mention Donaldson had a higher WAR than Arenado.

Going into his age-34 season, Donaldson would not be in New York to carry the middle of the order the way Arenado would. His bat is still great among third basemen, and the Mets can negotiate a deal very similar to Dellin Betances’. Offer Donaldson a one-year offer with multiple option years along with incentives for specific statistical achievements.

Add to Depth

Donaldson played 155 games after dealing with injuries for the previous two seasons. With the Mets, Donaldson will receive more days off and only have to play 135-140 games. The Mets have multiple interchangeable parts, which include J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, and Jed Lowrie if he survives the offseason. Donaldson becomes the everyday third baseman while the outfield spots become a revolving door and, most importantly, keeps everyone fresh.

With having this much depth means it gives the Mets room to make trades. They can use another arm in the bullpen, prospects, or most importantly, an everyday center fielder. Signing Donaldson allows the Mets to part ways with Davis, Brandon Nimmo, or Dominic Smith without being hurt, but enables those pieces can bring back a solid return. Not to mention, there will be a team who will take a risk on Jed Lowrie as well.

Signing Donaldson will also allow the Mets to weaken their competition while getting stronger at the same time. The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals are the front runners for Donaldson, and whoever signs him becomes the favorite to win the division. It also gives the Mets a very dangerous and balanced lineup.

The Mets have been silent on making any moves since the Betances signing. Their current roster structure puts them in a perfect place to compete, but signing Donaldson makes them a front runner to take the National League crown.