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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.

Dodgers look to join the Red Sox in the World Series

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One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.

NLCS Game 6

Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
Breakdown:

The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.

For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.

As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.