Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson wondered aloud about Gerrit Cole's spin rate declining two days after news broke that four minor-league pitchers were suspended for using foreign substances.
The New York Yankees ace saw his spin rate decrease on his fastball, curveball, changeup, and slider in Thursday's start against the Tampa Bay Rays, according to Baseball Savant. He allowed five earned runs through five innings as New York lost 9-2.
"Is it coincidence that Gerrit Cole's spin rate numbers went down (Thursday) after four minor leaguers got suspended for 10 games?" Donaldson said, according to Dan Hayes of The Athletic. "Is that possible? I don't know. Maybe. At the same time, with this situation, they've let guys do it."
This isn't the first time Cole's name has been linked to a ball-doctoring substance. A former Los Angeles Angels visiting clubhouse manager stated in legal documents in January that many star pitchers, including Cole, asked him for his grip-improving product in the past.
"Hey Bubba, it's Gerrit Cole, I was wondering if you could help me out with this sticky situation," Cole wrote in a text on Jan. 17, 2019, while with the Houston Astros, according to the documents. "We don't see you until May, but we have some road games in April that are in cold-weather places. The stuff I had last year seizes up when it gets cold."
Donaldson said in mid-May that he's been cataloging pitchers cheating following an incident involving St. Louis Cardinals reliever Giovanny Gallegos.
MLB reportedly plans to crack down on the use of foreign substances within the next few weeks by having umpires randomly check hurlers 8-10 times per game and review video footage.