Cardinals and Mets Beefing About a Load of Plunked Batters (UPDATE)

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Cardinals and Mets Beefing About a Load of Plunked Batters (UPDATE)

Chicago Cubs

There’s a whole lotta context for any discussion about the baseball, grip substances, and batters being hit by pitches, so you have to keep it all in mind when wading into this topic.

But this is some good and spicy stuff between Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt and Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas. The background is that FIVE batters were hit in last night’s Mets win (three Mets, two Cardinals), including Pete Alonso taking one off the helmet. Guys get hot when that stuff happens – as we know all too well from the various Cubs-Brewers flaps – but Bassitt took it in a slightly different direction after the game.

Bassitt says it’s the balls:

Keep in mind, this is all against the backdrop of the Mets getting hit a TON this year, so Bassitt is probably extra pissed off. Understandable.

That said, we’ve heard about inconsistencies with the baseball in recent years, but that was supposed to have been resolved this year, thanks to the combination of using only one manufactured batch of balls and having humidors in all stadiums for storage. I don’t believe for a minute that MLB “doesn’t care” about the uniformity of the baseballs (to the contrary, they seem to be obsessively trying to make the balls just right), so I don’t quite get that from Bassitt.

As for the claim that “every pitcher in the league knows it,” well, the guy who faced Bassitt said not so this morning. And he said it in an eyebrow-raising way:

Not that I’m itching to agree with a Cardinals player, and I have ZERO frame of reference since I’m not an MLB pitcher touching the baseballs daily. It does seem like Mikolas is making good points, though, given the sticky stuff enforcement since last year.

Which, by the way, is not to say Bassitt might not also have a point. Some pitchers genuinely lamented the way sticky stuff enforcement could lead to poorer grips on the baseball, which some have said has gotten slicker in recent years. We’ve heard about MLB trying to figure out a way to pre-tack the baseballs (they’ve experimented with it in the upper minors) the way it’s done in Asia. Clearly, there is something to this discussion.

Still, it seems like the loss of sticky stuff is likely a big factor, as is the simple fact that velocity and stuff have taken center stage in pitcher development/evaluation, at the expense of command and control. Pitchers might simply be a little bit wilder these days in the aggregate, because the tradeoff could be worth it.

As for the Cardinals and Mets, they’re set to play again this afternoon, with former Met Steven Matz taking the mound for the Cardinals. Will the five HBPs and subsequent public discourse have an impact on the game? We shall see.

UPDATE: Yup, more HBP’ing, and a benches-clearing incident today.


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.