Typically, in our waiver feed column, we focus on … well, the top waiver feed targets of the previous day’s action. But sometimes we stray from renunciation fodder and into other matters, and today is a good day for that.

We’re going to hit the higher waiver targets soon, but it’s worth taking a few minutes to talk about what happened with Gerrit Cole on Thursday. What happened with Cole? He had his worst start to the season, allowing five earned runs on five hits and two walks in five innings of work. He hit seven more punches and had 15 healthy swinging punches, so it’s not like the start was a total disaster – these things do happen every now and then. It’s just a start, and Cole hasn’t quite taken advantage of the same strike zone Ryan Yarbrough did on the other side:

So, it’s not really the results that are worth mentioning. You have to get into a bit of a mess to understand why I’m taking the time to focus on this. Cole’s turnover rate was down on this start. Path down. He averaged 2,436 rpm with his four-seam fastball, down from an average of 2,561 rpm for the entire season. His average fastball spin rate hasn’t been this low in a season since 2018, the year before he joined the Astros – and he didn’t start with a ball spin rate lower rapid since August 2018.

In the past this may have gone unnoticed, but … well, Jon Heyman literally tweeted this in the middle of Cole’s debut – probably coincidentally, but still:

It has been a constant topic of conversation around MLB all season, with several reports surfacing that the league seeks to crack down on the use of foreign substances – four minor league pitchers were suspended just days ago. No MLB player has been disciplined yet, but Cardinals manager Mike Schildt recently had a lot to say about pitching foreign substance use, calling it “baseball’s dirty little secret”:

There is no hard evidence that Cole uses any type of substance, although there have certainly been charges against him – and he would have contacted a former employee of Angels who was fired for providing pitchers with substances they could use to heal the ball or improve their grip.

Whether that’s true and what kind of impact it had on Cole specifically is sort of unknowable now, but it’s not really about Cole in particular – whether he uses something or not, pretty much everyone. everyone agrees that most pitchers are. It could range from sunscreen and rosin to much more sophisticated (and effective) substances, but it’s widespread practice right now, and it looks like MLB is finally about to crack down.

  • We talk about Ryan Yarbrough, MLB cracking down on Week 11 pitchers and sleepers on the Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 podcast. You can follow us for the latest episodes on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Maybe it won’t affect Cole. Maybe it won’t affect nobody – after all, if everyone is using something to gain an advantage, does anyone really have an advantage? That’s not to say that you should try to trade Cole now, or get off the ship on Trevor Bauer, or anyone else, in particular – again, we don’t. know for sure who uses what.

But it looks like it’s set to become an even bigger story in MLB, and the repercussions could be real for Fantasy. We’ll see what happens in the days and weeks to come, but I figured I should address the elephant in the room while we’re here. If MLB decides to start imposing penalties on players caught using these substances, the waiver thread could be even bigger than usual. It’s just another weird wrinkle that we have to keep in mind as the 2021 season progresses.

Possible waiver wire pickups





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