Yankees’ Gerrit Cole on if he used foreign substance while pitching: ‘I don’t quite know how to answer that’

Gerrit Cole Yankees
Gerrit Cole

In his first start after Major League Baseball announced that it would be cracking down on foreign substances used by pitchers to get more movement on their pitches, New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole posted suspiciously low spin rates on his pitches.

On Tuesday night, before his next scheduled start on Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins, Cole was asked a simple question of whether or not he has ever used Spider Tack — a super-sticky substance originally made for power builders and strongmen that pitchers have since adopted to get more grip on the ball, thus creating more spin on it for more movement. 

“I don’t quite know how to answer that, to be honest,” Cole said. “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. I think there are some things that are certainly out of bounds in that regard. I’ve stood pretty firm in terms of that.

“In terms of our communication with our peers and whatnot. This is important to a lot of people who love the game including the players in this room, the fans, including teams. If MLB wants to legislate more stuff, that’s a conversation we can have because ultimately we should be pulling in the same direction on this.”

Not exactly a convincing answer as MLB finally starts to crack down on the worst-kept secret of the game, which is pitchers using foreign and illegal substances to gain an unfair advantage while on the mound. Cole is not the only one who has been accused nor will he be the last. But his name, along with Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander and Washington Nationals star Max Scherzer, appeared in a lawsuit filed by former Los Angeles Angels clubhouse attendant, Bubba Harkins’ saying those three, among others, used grip-enhancing substances.

Cole’s spin numbers took an incredible leap between the 2017 and 2018 seasons when the Astros acquired him from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Astros have long been accused of taking shortcuts to get the most out of their pitchers, which in recent years has included the career resurgence of the now-injured veteran in Verlander.