MLive.com’s Evan Woodbery has an interesting read up today focusing on Tigers starter Justin Verlander. Verlander read the recent piece from The Ringer by Ben Lindbergh, featuring research from Mitchell Lichtman, that concluded that the baseballs were changed starting after the 2015 All-Star break.
“Are people talking about this? Are people writing about this?” Verlander asked.
Verlander said, “The old eye test is the best thing to go by. Guys that have been around this game for a long time, you see balls leaving the yard that probably shouldn’t be.” He added, “If it is true, I wish MLB would just say, ‘Yeah, we wanted more offense.’ But the explanation of why home runs are going out at such an extreme rate…I think people just want answers to that. Specifically pitchers. I don’t think hitters mind too much.”
Speaking about another one of baseball’s recent issues, the pace of play, Verlander suggested that the increasingly complex signs between catchers and pitchers is adding to the downtime in between pitches.
The game comes to a screeching halt when guys get on base, and specifically when guys get in scoring position on second base. The signs have to be more advanced than they ever were before.
Those 1-2-3 innings go pretty quick. It’s when guys get on base: Pitchers picking off and stepping off, managers giving signs to the catcher, catcher giving the signs to the pitcher. All these things take place and that’s where the lull is. I think there’s a lot of extra space in that area we could tighten up.
I have much more advanced signs now. I have fallback signs for my fallback signs. There’s a lot of stuff happening that makes it pretty easy to get off rhythm with the catcher or maybe throw the wrong pitch or have to say, ‘Hold on, let’s talk about this, because we’re not on the same page.
If Verlander got his way, Major League Baseball would come clean about altering baseballs and crack down on sign-stealing.