Gabe Kapler: MLB Says Pitchers Can Use Cheat Sheet After Joe West Incident

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2018

Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Austin Davis, left, talks with umpire Marty Foster, right, during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in Philadelphia. Umpire Joe West confiscated a card from Davis in the eighth inning of Philadelphia's 7-1 loss. Davis and Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he was using the card merely for information on the Cubs hitters. But West said it was illegal under Rule 6.02(c)(7), which states that the pitcher shall not have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Major League Baseball has informed the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs that pitchers are in fact allowed to have a reference card on the mound with them, according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat and Joe Bloss.

There was confusion during Saturday night's game at Citizens Bank Park as to whether it was permissible, when umpire Joe West made Phillies reliever Austin Davis surrender his cheat sheet:

West cited Rule 6.02(c)(7), which states the pitcher shall not "have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance," as his reasoning. However, he acknowledged afterward, via the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com), he wasn't quite sure if it was illegal—but he wanted to be safe rather than sorry:

"I saw him take it out, and I went, 'What the heck is that?'

"I didn't want to throw him out," West said. "I know it's foreign, but he's not trying to cheat. Maybe he's trying to get an advantage because he's reading the scouting report, but it wasn't pine tar, it wasn't an emery board, it wasn't whatever.

"In the long run, maybe they'll let him [have the card]. Right now, my hands are tied until they say yes or no. Right now, until the office says it's OK to carry this, he can't do it."

Davis, meanwhile, noted that the card helps him prepare for the hitters he is facing, via Muskat and Bloss:

"This is something I create. We have our meeting where we go over the hitters. I take that information and put it on a card so I don't have to try and memorize it, and use my mental energy to get ready for the game. Then I just take a glance and go.

"Our analytics department works really, really hard to come up with this stuff for us, and I want to use it because they work all day to come up with stuff to help get guys out. And if I have an answer to get a guy out, I want to know what that is."

With how much analytics have become a part of today's game, players have a lot to digest when it comes to preparing for opposing hitters. A cheat sheet like the one Davis was carrying can serve as a nice reminder as to how to approach a batter.

Position players have used similar cards in order to make sure they are in the right spot for a particular hitter.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, via the AP, called the cheat sheets "a really good thing for baseball." For what it's worth, Cubs manager Joe Maddon did not take issue with the card. Via MLB.com, he said "it's no big deal" and that he "believe[s] in information."

Davis worked two innings against the Cubs on Saturday in a 7-1 loss, allowing two unearned runs on three hits while striking out two.


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