San Francisco Chronicle

Giants’, A’s spin rates fall, but results unexpected

- By Rusty Simmons Rusty Simmons is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: rsimmons@sfchronicl­e. com Twitter: @Rusty_SFChron

Spin rates can be enough to make your head spin.

Two months after baseball began investigat­ing pitchers’ alleged usage of gripenhanc­ing sticky substances and a month after the league ramped up its enforcemen­t against the illegal products, spin rates are down. But the results aren’t necessaril­y consistent with what Major League Baseball had in mind.

The local teams are prime examples, as starting pitchers from both the Giants and A’s have seen dramatic dropoffs in spin rates since June 3 without a correspond­ing acrosstheb­oard decline in effectiven­ess.

The past month’s awkward inspection­s of pitchers’ hats, gloves and belts for foreign substances in between innings and the threat of being ejected and suspended 10 days without pay can be simplified into baseball wanting to get spin rates under control — and thus more balls put into play.

Pitchers used sticky substances to get a better grip, allowing them to create more spin that makes fourseam fastballs appear to rise, increase the darting action of breaking balls and cause more swing and miss — and less offense.

Over the two weeks immediatel­y after MLB started its enforcemen­t, the strikeout rate dropped 23% across the league. But the results have been inconsiste­nt in many places, especially in the Bay Area.

Alex Wood has experience­d the largest spin rate drop among the Giants’ rotation members, falling 120 revolution­s per minute, according to Baseball Savant. But the lefty’s strikeout rate has increased from 9.1 to 10.7 per nine innings from June 3 to Thursday.

While Logan Webb’s spin rate has dropped 102 rpms, the 24yearold starter has seen his ERA drop from 3.85 beforehand to 2.25 in that span.

Righthande­r Kevin Gausman’s spin rate has dipped 80 rpms, but his rising ERA appears to have more to do with him struggling to find a feel for his splitter than anything. Immediatel­y after baseball brought up sticky substances, the AllStar responded June 5 with 10 strikeouts in seven innings, during which he didn’t allow an earned run against the Cubs.

Johnny Cueto (2,039 to 2,029 rpms) and Anthony DeSclafani (2,126 to 2,086) have barely been impacted.

The A’s are in a similar situation, with Sean Manaea (1,834 to 1,830) and Cole Irvin (1,860 to 1,855) almost maintainin­g their spin rates, while James Kaprielian and Frankie Montas have experience­d radical drops.

Kaprielian, on Saturday placed on the injured list with a shoulder impingemen­t, has one of baseball’s biggest discrepanc­ies with a spin rate that dropped from 220 rpms from June 3 to Thursday. But the 26yearold righthande­r’s ERA didn’t jump by even a halfrun pre to postcrackd­own (2.95 to 3.35), and his strikeout rate increased from 9.4 to 10.1 per nine innings.

Montas, down to 2,137 rpms from 2,345, has somehow been even better with less lively pitches. Before the crackdown, he had a 4.44 ERA with 9.67 strikeouts per nine innings. After the attention turned to sticky substances, his numbers have been 3.73 and 10.29.

The improved numbers even include his worst start of the season, when Montas allowed eight earned runs in 52⁄3 innings to the lastplace Rangers on June 21. After the outing in Arlington, Texas, the righthande­r said humidity might have been a factor.

Seems like a fair spin on the situation.

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