Justin Verlander '100 percent' sure MLB is juicing baseballs | News Coverage from USA

Justin Verlander ‘100 percent’ sure MLB is juicing baseballs

Justin Verlander isn’t one to hide his feelings when it comes to his tools of his trade.

On a day he was named the American League’s starting pitcher for the 2019 All-Star Game, Verlander issued his strongest condemnation yet of the official major league baseballs, calling them “a f—ing joke,” and suggesting MLB is manipulating the balls to increase offense.

“Yes. 100 percent,” he told ESPN on Monday. “They’ve been using juiced balls in the Home Run Derby forever. They know how to do it.”

Verlander has allowed a major league-leading 26 home runs this season — just four shy of his career high for a full season.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged in June that the baseballs in use this year have less drag because the core of the ball is better centered.

“The scientists identified the pill in the baseball — not what it was actually composed of — but the centering of the pill in the baseball as something that could be a drag issue,” he told Newsday. “We think one of the things that may be happening is they’re getting better at centering the pill. It creates less drag.”

But that didn’t sit well with Verlander. “It’s not coincidence,” he said. I find it really hard to believe that Major League Baseball owns Rawlings and just coincidentally the balls become juiced.”

The Houston Astros ace memorably called out Major League Baseball during the 2017 World Series when he and other pitchers felt the baseballs were “a little slick” that postseason.

Verlander repeated his criticism the following spring when an independent study revealed the baseballs were less dense than in previous years. “My issue is I don’t like being lied to. I knew something was different. Century old records are being broken and numbers are skewed,” he said in March 2018.

Other pitchers this season have expressed similar concerns. In May, Washington Nationals closer Sean Doolittle told USA TODAY the baseballs “feel really slick, they feel really smooth” and that occasionally he will get a ball that “didn’t feel right in my hand so I just threw it out.”

At the All-Star break, MLB teams are averaging 1.37 homers per game, which would shatter the single-season record of 1.26, set in 2017.

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