According to one fan who caught a foul ball thrown by Astros ace Justin Verlander, the baseball is almost entirely covered in a substance, likely pine tar.
One Yankee fan who caught a ball at a Yankees vs. Astros game last month, Chris Vitali (@chrisvitali), has taken to Twitter to show off a sticky substance that seems to be covered on the ball.
So I meant to post this a month ago but forgot. Here’s a foul ball I got at Old Timer’s Day in June. The pitcher was Justin Verlander. Notice anything about the ball? You can see his entire grip in a pine tar stain. @SEsq212 @steelers1288 @Evandwetzel4 #yankees pic.twitter.com/36IzNeUO7K
— Chris Vitali (@chrisvitali) August 5, 2019
While there is no undisputed evidence that this ball was covered in pine tar by Justin Verlander last month, why should we believe otherwise? Verlander has gone on record of saying that he believes there is something different with the baseballs used this season that causes more home runs. So, why wouldn’t he be using pine tar to get an edge on the “juiced balls”?
While most pitchers in MLB do likely use a little bit of pine tar to get a better grip on the ball, it’s rare that a fan who catches a foul ball can identify the pitcher’s grip because of how much of the banned substance was used.
Pine tar may very well be the Astros pitching secret that the rest of the league is just too scared to take advantage of. I mean, Verlander was on the heavy decline until he was traded to the Astros and was rejuvenated, Gerrit Cole couldn’t pitch his way out of a plastic bag, and Aaron Sanchez was awful with the Blue Jays until he threw six no-hit innings in his first start in Houston.
Something sketchy is going on here with the Astros pitching staff, but it seems as if no one is stepping up to say anything in fear that their team will be caught doing the same thing as well.