Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Despite the midseason rule change that tries to prevent pitchers from using foreign substances by encouraging umpires to check pitchers in-between innings, MLB is still letting managers ask umpires to check pitchers for sticky substances during an inning.
When Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was asked if the rules in place are enough to prevent managers from abusing the system to give their team an advantage, he said it is a case-by-case situation.
“For me, I’m not going to check unless I’m pretty certain,” Roberts said. “But I don’t know if there’s any penalties if you do. I’m all about gamesmanship, but I certainly would pick my spots.”
This topic took center when Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi asked the umpires to check Washington Nationals starter Max Scherzer for sticky substances in the middle of the fifth inning.
Scherzer was already checked by umpires in three of the previous innings and was free of sticky stuff every time. So when Girardi had the umpires check Scherzer during an inning, it caused the right-hander to become angry because his rhythm was being thrown off for something they were already checking him for.
So far, the league has not found any pitchers guilty of breaking their new rules, which was reportedly part of their plan as they hoped public pressure would cause pitchers to stop.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has been pleased with the early results of the foreign substance crackdown.
Kershaw critical of potential manipulation
Dodgers pitchers have passed every substances check thus far, but Kershaw also raised issue with managers possibly being in position to manipulate the system.
“I think there should be a punishment if they don’t catch anything on the guy,” Kershaw recently said. “Scherzer, he’s one of the best pitchers of our generation. To see him get checked, I think it was a first-and-third situation or guys on base and mess up his rhythm, I think he ended up getting out of it.
“But you better find something if you’re going to call him out like that. Maybe there should be a punishment if a manager checks a guy and there isn’t anything, or something like that. Other than that, it is what is.
“It’s whatever. … I mean, it’s a good technique. A guy going in a rhythm, and maybe you have someone on base, have him checked, it throws you off. It’s something you’re not used to. Maybe they lose a challenge, or maybe if they have a challenge they can’t do it. I don’t know. But I think there should be some repercussions for managers just doing it on a whim like that.
“Because if you call somebody out — anybody, but somebody of Max Scherzer’s caliber — and you don’t find anything, I think that looks pretty bad on the manager’s part.”
Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and more!