An emerging cheating scandal in Major League Baseball has had plenty of tentacles touching the Twins along the way.
Now it figures to come front and center this week at Target Field.
At issue: Pitchers using foreign substances to improve performance — above and beyond a little here and there to help their grip on the ball and instead delving into true cheating territory with special materials designed to improve spin (and therefore velocity and movement).
The issue started to become more public a couple weeks ago when Cardinals pitcher Giovanny Gallegos was asked to change his cap by umpire Joe West under suspicion that he had a substance on it. Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson tweeted soon after that he has "an entire catalog" of pitchers cheating.
From there, the issue might have faded. But as Phil Miller and I talked about on Tuesday's Daily Delivery podcast, it only accelerated.
If you don't see the podcast player, tap here to listen.
MLB has decided to crack down on pitchers suspected of gaining an unfair edge. Four minor league pitchers were suspended, and some star pitchers in the majors have shown a noticeable drop in spin on their pitches in recent outings — including the Yankees' Gerrit Cole.
Donaldson broke with typical athlete code and named players, including Cole, by name in a recent session with reporters.
"Is it coincidence that [Yankees pitcher] Gerrit Cole's spin rate numbers went down yesterday after four minor leaguers got suspended for 10 games?" Donaldson said. "I don't know. Maybe. [Dodgers pitcher] Trevor Bauer has been vocal about, 'Hey, these are the substances that guys mix together.' Well, now, as a pitcher, if you sit here and say, 'Oh, hey, these guys are getting away with it, this guy's getting $325 million, this guy's getting paid, this guy's doing this, they're not cracking down on it, why wouldn't I do it?'
Yankees manager Aaron Boone, when asked about Donaldson's allegations, gave a somewhat tepid response.
"Gerrit, as well all of our staff members, I believe are mostly above board and will be able to handle this situation in the right kind of way,'' Boone said. "And it's not gonna affect the kind of pitchers they are."
Per that referenced New York Post story, Cole is slated to address the issue before Tuesday's game.
But the real fun should come Wednesday. That's when Cole is slated to pitch Game 2 of the Yankees/Twins series at Target Field, presumably with Donaldson in the lineup.
It won't solve the issue of to what extent cheating is happening. But it will be another subplot in a story that MLB probably wishes would go away but just keeps sticking to the game instead.