Dodgers pitching coach comments on foreign substance crackdown
According to the data, Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior will find himself firmly in the belly of the beast following Monday’s action, when MLB officially begins to enforce punishments against sticky stuff offenders.
Make no mistake: this will be a league-wide adjustment period, and no team is safe. From Gerrit Cole last week in Buffalo to Tyler Glasnow after suffering his elbow injury to Garrett Richards of the Red Sox basically eulogizing his curveball for the time being, it’s clear this rule change will impact plenty of staffs.
That said, the Dodgers are clearly in the league’s crosshairs.
On spin rate alone, Trevor Bauer has earned a cross-examination, but with years of wink-winks at his disposal that have gotten him a freshly-inked new contract, the world will be watching him ravenously, as they have over the past few weeks.
According to Sports Illustrated’s recent bombshell reporting, Prior has reason to be nervous that MLB’s midseason changes will affect his pitching staff more than any other.
After all, it was the Dodgers, not the cheating Astros, who displayed the largest year-over-year spin rate increase between 2020 and 2021.
The Dodgers won’t know how to make changes yet after MLB’s sticky stuff enforcement, per Mark Prior.
A 7.04% increase from 2020 to 2021 will raise eyebrows. It’s the kind of jump that’ll make a fan wonder whether Bauer, Prior and the rest of the Dodgers are ready for both increased scrutiny and adjustments to their personal game plans.
So what’s the team got prepped? Prior…isn’t sure yet.
As the pitching coach told the Orange County Register this weekend:
"“I honestly don’t know. It’s not going to change how we go about preparing for Monday. And if things do change then we adjust. That’s part of the game anyway. We adapt. You always have to go through adjustment periods on a lot of things – whether teams are adjusting to how we’re pitching them, whether our guys aren’t pitching to the best of their ability at certain times.“Like everything, we try to take it in stride. I’m a pretty practical person. I feel like I try to recognize where we’re at – what our strengths are, what our weaknesses are and then make sure we hopefully position ourselves to maximize our strengths at that time. Through the course of the season, there are ebbs and flows. We’ve got guys pitching well and pitching bad. We’ve got guys who are wild and guys who have command. We try our best to juggle those things to hopefully prepare us to be peaking at the end of the season.“So I don’t view it any much differently than that. I’m not going into it expecting anything different.”"
Across the league, offensive players universally have echoed the same sentiment: a level playing field is all we want.
Pitchers, though? They’re inclined to agree, but most seem to believe a midseason pivot to draconian restrictions isn’t level at all, but rather an extreme shift in the hitters’ direction.
Bauer has already had several starts featuring noticeable drops in RPMs on his pitches, and the past few weeks have certainly served as an adjustment period for Prior, his staff, and the team’s offense. We won’t be starting from a blank slate on Monday by any means.
That said, Prior’s going to have his work cut out for him in an attempt to “maximize” his pitchers’ strengths considering many of them just took a league-mandate step back this week.
A suspension for any important hurler would be a death knell; not only would the pitcher be forced to miss 10 days, but league rules prohibit them from being replaced on the active roster. This team will likely be among many going cold turkey over the next few weeks, and it’ll be up to Prior to steady the ship.