Are MLB pitchers already gaming the league's new rules about using foreign substances to enhance their grip on the ball?
A new piece published in The Athletic seems to suggest as much.
A couple months' worth of spin-rate data has revealed some interesting trends, according to Eno Sarris.
While spin rate remains down across the league, Sarris writes, there has been an uptick since the few weeks immediately after the league implemented the crackdown.
Even more interesting, there appears to be greater variance observed from one inning to the next in many pitchers -- perhaps indicating they're anticipating substance checks by umpires, and modifying their behavior before and after accordingly.
One major league coach seems convinced something is awry, telling Sarris "You should also take a look at spin by inning."
The theory goes that because of the relatively predictable nature of substances checks, which are performed at roughly the same points in every game and focus on the same parts of uniforms and gloves, it appears that at least some pitchers may have figured out how to beat the inspections.
You can read the full Athletic story here, with detailed breakdowns of variances in spin rates before and after the new rules.
So far, only one pitcher -- Hector Santiago of the Mariners -- has been suspended for using a foreign substance, which the league said was found by umpires during a routine check. Santiago was later banned 80 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
As well, the Diamondbacks' Caleb Smith was ejected from a game last week on suspicion of using a foreign substance, when the umps said they found "suspicious spots" on his glove.
Smith's mitt was confiscated and sent to New York for further analysis, per the steps spelled out by the new rule, though Smith pitched in Arizona's game on Sunday, and the league was yet to update the findings of its analysis by Tuesday morning.