'It's a joke': All-star starter Verlander rips MLB for 'juiced' balls and increase in home runs
Astros right-hander, Dodgers' Ryu named starting pitchers for Tuesday's game
Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander surrendered a MLB-high 26 home runs before the all-star break, so it's no great surprise his opinion of the spike in offence and home runs is explicit.
"It's a f—-ing joke," said Verlander, an eight-time all-star who is starting his second all-star game on Tuesday. "Major League Baseball's turning this game into a joke. They own Rawlings, and you've got (commissioner Rob) Manfred up here saying it might be the way they centre the pill.
"They own the f—-ing company," he said. "If any other $40 billion company bought out a $400 million company and the product changed dramatically, it's not a guess as to what happened. We all know what happened. Manfred the first time he came in, what'd he say? He said we want more offence. All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It's not coincidence. We're not idiots."
Verlander, 36, went a step further when asked if he believed MLB intentionally juiced baseballs to increase home runs and offence across the league.
Jays' Stroman agrees
"Yes. 100 per cent," Verlander said. "They've been using juiced balls in the Home Run Derby forever. They know how to do it. It's not coincidence. I find it really hard to believe that Major League Baseball owns Rawlings and just coincidentally the balls become juiced."
Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman said he endorsed most of Verlander's take, but unlike Verlander — who said he walks a "tightrope" no matter who is at the plate — claims he doesn't waste time worrying about it.
"I've just come to terms with it. It is what it is. You can't control it," Stroman said. "So why even think about it?"
In four of Verlander's past five starts, he's allowed multiple home runs, including three July 5 against the Angels and three apiece in starts against the Reds (June 18) and Brewers (June 12). He also had 23 total strikeouts against Cincinnati and Milwaukee.
"I don't know if it's bad or good for the game," he said. "That's for them to decide. I don't think it's great — that the true outcomes of strikeouts, homers and walks is best for the game. That's for somebody else to decide. I talk about time a lot — how do you stack up in history? If you're going to change something so dramatically, I think you need to make people aware."
The first four batters Verlander will face in the National League batting order for the All-Star Game — Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich, Cubs shortstop Javy Baez, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger — have a total of 106 home runs this season. Bellinger has 30, and Yelich 31.
Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers gets the start for the National League.
- Christian Yelich, Milwaukee, LF
- Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs, SS
- Freddie Freeman, Atlanta, 1B
- Cody Bellinger, L.A. Dodgers, RF
- Nolan Arenado, Colorado, 3B
- Josh Bell, Pittsburgh, DH
- Wilson Contreras, Chicago Cubs, C
- Ketel Marte, Arizona, 2B
- Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta, CF
- Hyun-Jin Ryu, L.A. Dodgers, P
- George Springer, Houston, RF
- DJ LeMahieu, N.Y. Yankees, 2B
- Mike Trout, L.A. Angels, CF
- Carlos Santana, Cleveland, 1B
- J.D. Martinez, Boston, DH
- Alex Bregman, Houston, 3B
- Gary Sanchez, N.Y. Yankees, C
- Michael Brantley, Houston, LF
- Jorge Polanco, Minnesota, SS
- Justin Verlander, Houston, P
- Mark Wegner, home plate
- Brian O'Nora, First base
- Phil Cuzzi, Second base
- Tim Timmons, Third base
- D.J. Reyburn, Left field
- Jordan Baker, Right Field