Personally, I never had any problems with pitchers “doctoring” baseballs to get some extra spin and control on their pitches. Obviously, this can go to the extreme, but I also think Major League Baseball’s solution to the problem was even more extreme. When you look at Atlanta’s roster, there are a lot of guys who had a long road back to the majors. Tyler Matzek was out of baseball for almost a decade, and Chris Martin was playing in Korea before he was traded from the Rangers to the Braves. Luke Jackson was having a career year, thanks in part to his nasty slider. So, have the new rules affected Atlanta’s pitchers by decreasing their spin rate and control? Advanced analytics would say yes:
Report making the rounds has #Braves' Tyler Matzek with the second-largest spin-rate reduction in the majors since sticky-substance crackdown began Monday. Luke Jackson was 26th-largest reduction.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) June 25, 2021
ugly, non-traditional ASG uniforms (aka diversion tactics) aside
our spin rate drop winner for Wednesday was…..
BOS Garrett Richards with ATL Tyler Matzek garnering honorable mention pic.twitter.com/CszwvtGcYQ
— Tim Ryder (@TimothyRRyder) June 24, 2021
Spin rate noticeably down for Chris Martin. pic.twitter.com/oJbFTKcbk7
— Bennett Hipp (@BennettHipp) June 24, 2021
AJ Minter hasn’t seen the drop in spin rate that other pitchers have, but there’s a pretty noticable decline in his changeup RPM since the new rule came into effect. pic.twitter.com/vlvmPfaPY4
— SportsTalkATL Jake (@cantguardjake) June 30, 2021
Shane Greene hasn’t been great since returning to Atlanta, but his spin rate hasn’t seen any big dips. Josh Tomlin has remained steady, but also pretty ineffective. Oddly enough, Matzek has been doing just fine since the rule came into effect. Granted, it has only been 6.2 innings, but he has only allowed three hits and one run. Everyone else, not so much:
Luke Jackson (Last 7 Games): 5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K (5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP)
Chris Martin (Last 7 Games): 6.0 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (9.00 ERA, 1.83 WHIP)
Granted, these are small sample sizes, but this is concerning for two guys who have arguably been Atlanta’s best relievers this season. I’m not shocked Martin is scuffling, and while I don’t think using a sticky substance is cheating, there’s probably a reason he bounced back from playing in Korea to tossing a 1.00 ERA in 2020. Luke Jackson was having his best year, so he was likely due for some regression anyways. Hopefully, this is just a flukey small sample size because Atlanta’s bullpen can’t afford to regress even more than they already have.