When a Twitter user attributed the increased spin rates of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Charlie Morton to them possibly using a foreign substance to throw "spitballs," Kyle Boddy of Driveline, a pitching development clinic, said the doctoring would, in fact, reduce spin rate. Bauer disagreed, replying with the thinking face emoji and suggesting the evidence does point toward spitballing:
Morton, Verlander, and Cole, all acquired between the 2016-17 and 2017-18 offseasons, have resurrected their careers to varying degrees. Morton went from a fringe starter to a reliable rotation piece with a remarkable strikeout rate. Verlander, entering the twilight of his career, was rejuvenated to near-Cy Young form, owning a 9-0 record in regular season play since joining the Astros and winning ALCS MVP. Cole, meanwhile, has transitioned from a reliable starter in the National League - widely considered the weaker hitting league - to the best starter in the American League. Over 41 2/3 innings, the right-hander is striking out 39.4 percent of batters while walking 5.2 percent - both career bests.
Compared to last year, the spin rate on Cole's four-seam fastball has jumped 8.2 percent from 2,153 revolutions per minute to 2,331. His slider, curve, and sinker have all increased in spin, as well, while the changeup has decreased slightly. The biggest jump came on the right-hander's sinker, though, which increased by 9.4 percent (2,084 rpm to 2,281 rpm).
Cole's rotation mate, Lance McCullers Jr., protested Bauer's insinuation:
In response, Bauer appeared to criticize Major League Baseball for not enforcing the rule that prohibits pitchers from throwing spitballs:
Astros third baseman Alex Bregman jumped into the fray to defend his pitching staff as well, telling Bauer to "relax" and calling him by the wrong name:
Collin McHugh also took it upon himself to drag Bauer, suggesting that improvements can be made thanks to coaching and veteran tutelage: