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Trevor Bauer, Astros throw shade at each other

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There’s been a little bit of baseball-related drama on Twitter today. It started when Kyle Boddy of Driveline Bases responded to a question suggesting the Astros were “doctoring” the baseball based on increased spin rates of relative newcomers Justin Verlander, Charlie Morton, and Gerrit Cole. Boddy responded, playfully, “…what a weird coincidence you have discovered” along with a “thinking” emoji.

Bauer, responding to Boddy’s tweet, sent about 40 or so thinking emojis of his own. He then said, “If only there was just a really quick way to increase spin rate. Like what if you could trade for a player knowing that you could bump his spin rate a couple hundred rpm overnight…imagine the steals you could get on the trade market! If only that existed…”

The implication, of course, is that Astros pitchers are using pine tar to improve their grip on the baseball and get more spin.

Bauer spent most of his afternoon responding to people chiming in on the conversation. Some of those happened to be Astros.

Here’s Lance McCullers:

Alex Bregman, who appears to have intentionally used the wrong first name to refer to Bauer:

Some pitchers and coaches thought that the baseballs used during the 2017 World Series were different than the balls used during the season. That is what Bregman is referring to.

And Collin McHugh:

As to Bauer’s claim that the Astros specifically are using something to improve their spin rates, Eno Sarris of The Athletic investigated and didn’t find any strong evidence. Sarris compared the spin rates of pitchers prior to their stints in Houston and the spin rates while with the Astros. Cole was the only real outlier. Morton had an increase in spin rate but it started when he was with the Phillies.

Sarris does say, “Pine tar increases grip and looks like it leads to more spin,” concluding that Major League Baseball should add clarity to the rules, letting everyone use the substance or letting nobody use it. Currently, there’s a bit of an unwritten rule that pitchers can use it but only if they’re not too obvious about it or doing it during a big game. Bauer even suggests that MLB selectively enforces the rule. You may recall that then-Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was suspended 10 games in 2014 for using pine tar. If anything comes of this Twitter beef, hopefully it’s additional clarity and consistent enforcement of the rule for pitchers using pine tar.

Shawn Tolleson retires from baseball

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Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that reliever Shawn Tolleson is retiring from baseball. The right-hander experienced a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery last week.

Tolleson, who turns 31 years old on Saturday, last pitched in the majors in 2016. He had two very good years out of the bullpen for the Rangers in 2014-15, posting an aggregate 2.88 ERA with 145 strikeouts and 45 walks across 144 innings.

Tolleson signed a one-year deal with the Rays in January 2017 before undergoing Tommy John surgery several months later. The Rangers inked him to a minor league contract in December 2017, but he wasn’t able to work his way back.