MLB Star Justin Verlander Questions Game Integrity, Says League Juicing Balls for More Offense

Posted on: July 9, 2019, 08:11h. 

Last updated on: July 9, 2019, 08:50h.

MLB superstar pitcher Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros didn’t hold back in criticizing league officials for what he believes is their implementation of juiced baseballs in order to spur more offense.

Justin Verlander MLB odds baseball
Justin Verlander threw shade at the MLB, saying he believes the balls used this year are juiced, which makes them travel farther and faster when hit. The league is on pace for more than 6,600 home runs this season, which would be about 500 more than the record set two years ago. (Image: ESPN)

It’s a startling allegation from one of the game’s highest profile stars, as MLB continues to stress the importance of protecting its integrity in the wake of sports betting expanding across the country.

They’ve been using juiced balls in the Home Run Derby forever. They know how to do it. It’s no coincidence. I find it really hard to believe that Major League Baseball owns Rawlings and just coincidentally the balls become juiced,” Verlander told ESPN.

MLB and a private equity firm jointly purchased Rawlings – the sports equipment manufacturer that supplies the league with its baseballs – last year for $395 million.

Game Integrity

The US’ big four sports leagues, the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, had long refrained from embracing casinos and sports betting due to concerns that close relationships would threaten the integrity of their games. A federal law had banned full-scale sports betting everywhere but Nevada until the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional in May 2018.

Since the historic SCOTUS decision, the leagues have taken steps to better monitor sports betting activity.

In February, MLB announced a partnership with Sportradar to distribute real-time statistics to sports betting operators. The MLB says game statistics are collected in real time “at every ballpark via the league’s proprietary technology and stat operators.”

The agreement with Sportradar, the league says, “will deliver a significant competitive edge to sportsbooks when it comes to in-game betting and liability management.”

While the league wants to know if an outside influence is colluding with someone who can affect the outcome of a game, the league allegedly using juiced balls could of course impact the outcome, too. Verlander says every player he faces now has the potential to hit the opposite way.

“I hate the way I feel out there,” Verlander added. “No matter who’s the batter, I feel like I’m constantly walking a tightrope.

“There’s been multiple times this year where five years ago I’d probably just throw a fastball away. I can’t do that. Because you’re the 8-, 9-hole hitter and you still can hit an opposite-field homer,” he concluded.

All-Star Game Odds

Verlander takes the mound tonight for the American League in the All-Star Game. He’ll face Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The AL squad are slight favorites, with the Westgate SuperBook having the team at -110. A $100 wager and AL win nets $90.91. The NL is even money for the game.

The American League is spotting the underdog National League 1.5 runs. The over/under for total runs is 8.5.

Sluggers Mike Trout of the Anaheim Angels and Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers are the co-favorites for the All-Star Game MVP Award at +1000. Should either player win, bettors who risk $100 will net $1,000.