MLB to Enhance Enforcement of Foreign Substance Rules; Will Start June 21

Adam WellsJune 15, 2021

Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Major League Baseball has announced its rules regarding pitchers' use of foreign substances will be enforced Monday.

Per a statement from MLB, the "enhanced enforcement" of the rules will include umpires' making "regular checks of all pitchers regardless of whether an opposing Club's manager makes a request."

Lindsey Adler @lindseyadler

Full MLB release on foreign substance enforcement. The release is also available here: https://t.co/zcqf86ge4h pic.twitter.com/5Tza8SEtLB

Anyone found to be in violation of the rules "will be ejected from the game" and receive a 10-game suspension, with repeat offenders "subject to progressive discipline."

There has been increased attention around pitching performances across the sport as offensive numbers have plummeted to historically low levels in 2021.

Even though there have long been rules in place to combat pitchers who use illegal substances, it's not something umpires have gone out of the way to check.

In a story by Sports Illustrated's Stephanie Apstein and Alex Prewitt, one recently retired pitcher said "80 to 90 percent" of current hurlers are using some form of "sticky stuff."

One MLB team executive told Apstein and Prewitt the situation "should be the biggest scandal in sports."

MLB's statement also noted research conducted with information from the first two months of this season determined "there is a prevalence of foreign substance use by pitchers in Major League Baseball and throughout the Minor Leagues."

Starting pitchers will "will have more than one mandatory check per game," while relievers will be "checked either at the conclusion of the inning in which he entered the game or when he is removed from the game, whichever occurs first."

Catchers will also receive "routine inspections." Position players will be subject to inspection if an umpire observes "conduct consistent with the use of a foreign substance by the pitcher."

Heading into Tuesday's games, the 30 teams had a collective .238 batting average and were averaging a record 9.0 strikeouts per game in 2021. The .238 average would be the second-lowest in MLB history, one point ahead of what it was in the 1968 season.

Major League Baseball lowered the pitcher's mound from 15 to 10 inches before the 1969 season in an attempt to increase offense because of the pitching dominance of the previous year.


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