After the controversy that surrounded Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and the accusations that he may have used a foreign substance to doctor baseballs, a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports suggests that the majority of major league pitchers use sunscreen to grip the ball better:
Two veteran pitchers and one source close to the Red Sox told Yahoo! Sports that about 90 percent of major league pitchers use some form of spray-on sunscreen—almost always BullFrog brand—that when combined with powdered rosin gives them a far superior grip on the ball.
That extra grip gives the pitchers a better feel on the baseball, allowing them to get the most velocity and location out of every pitch.
Clay Buchholz touches his left forearm on May 1 via Yahoo! Sports
The GIF above clearly shows Buchholz wiping his arm and the back of his neck, and that should be enough evidence for the league to at least investigate the use of sunscreen as an artificial pitching aid.
Dirk Hayhurst @TheGarfoose
Forget the hair, I just saw video of Buchholz loading the ball with some Eddie Harris worthy slick'em painted up his left forearm. Wow.2013-5-2 03:59:03
While the report claims that this technique doesn’t add any movement on the baseball, several of the pitchers who Passan talked to admitted that it does improve the way they pitch.
That’s called a competitive advantage.
This perceived edge is something Major League Baseball must look into extensively, especially with the league’s stance on the use of spitballs.
As far as the accusations against Buchholz himself, everything stems from his May 1 start against Toronto when Blue Jays color commentator Dirk Hayhurst noticed that the Red Sox starter was going to his arm quite often:
This was an obvious enough issue that the MLB would look foolish if it didn't at least figure out whether the allegations are true and discover if there is anything the organization can do about these widespread accusations.
If 90 percent of the league is using this method, it should be the standard for all pitchers or outlawed completely.