MIAMI — Evidence is mounting to suggest that the baseballs used by major league teams are changing.
Anyone can count the number of home runs, which occurred at a record-high rate in the first half of the season. Some have tested the composition of baseballs; reports on TheRinger.com and FiveThirtyEight.com noted that, while the balls they analyzed fell within MLB’s manufacturing specifications, the range of specifications was broad enough to partially explain a surge in batted-ball distance.
Pitchers, meanwhile, can simply look at their fingers.
Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill and right-hander Brandon McCarthy have been treated for blisters recently. Hill said his issues began last season; McCarthy said his began this year. Hill made two trips to the 10-day disabled list in April because of a blister on his left middle finger. Blisters haven’t sent McCarthy to the DL, but he said he notices them after every start.
Both pitchers have questions about the composition of the baseballs. Could the blisters be caused by a change in the seam height? Seam width? The tightness of the leather cover?
“It does raise questions about what is going on, what is behind it,” Hill said. “It’s something that has to be looked at. When you have multiple pitchers talking about baseballs, there’s got to be something going on.”
“The seams, to me, feel humongous,” McCarthy said. “They feel like high school or college balls. They’re just so high. I never noticed them in the past.”
It isn’t just Hill and McCarthy. Veteran Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto openly endorsed the juiced-baseball theory after a recurrence of blisters Friday night. Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman criticized MLB for ignoring the issue after he was treated for a blister earlier this month.
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