MLB will institute new protocols this season to crack down on the use of foreign substances on baseballs, according to a memo obtained by ESPN.
The memo sent to all 30 MLB teams includes information about inspecting balls taken out of play, analyzing spin rate data and closely monitoring dugouts and clubhouses.
The new procedures aim to limit the use of foreign substances, such as pine tar, that can increase spin rate, effectively leading to more strikes.
The league will examine whether a pitcher's spin rate significantly improves from his "normal" spin rate. According to ESPN, MLB will also test balls taken out of play, both randomly and if officials have reason to suspect wrongdoing. These baseballs will be sent to a third-party lab and will be tracked to the pitcher who used them, the memo says.
MLB compliance officers will also file daily reports on their observations of team dugouts, clubhouses and batting cages while looking out for foreign substance violations.
Umpires will continue to monitor for foreign substances during games.
The ball has been increasingly scrutinized over the last year. An investigation by Sports Illustrated found the 2020 season had a large percentage of baseballs that weighed differently than years prior, effectively giving hitters an advantage. The investigation found these balls had less drag and therefore traveled farther.
As many as 16 venues in the league saw more long home runs than normal in 2020.