Blue Jays’ Jay Jackson admits to tipping pitches during Aaron Judge’s suspicious at-bat
Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
By Thomas Hall4 months ago
Stealing signs or locations is fair game as long as technology is not involved – something Toronto Blue Jays reliever Jay Jackson was reminded of on Monday night against the New York Yankees.
With the Yankees leading 6-0 in the eighth inning, Jackson was called upon for mop-up duty to preserve the club’s bullpen, which he did, allowing just one hit before recording a third out. He struck out his first two batters faced, inducing swinging punchouts of Aaron Hicks and Jake Bauers. But then came time for Aaron Judge’s final at-bat of the game.
Jackson threw Judge six straight sliders, with his final one missing over the heart of the plate – to a slugger who’s hitting .333 AVG and 1.000 SLG versus sliders this season – which No. 99 blasted 462 feet to centre field.
Source: Baseball Savant
Before Judge swung, however, cameras caught the Yankees captain peaking toward first base coach Travis Chapman and New York’s dugout as if they were informing him of the upcoming pitch and/or location. As it turns out, that is likely what they were doing.
Of course, it also helped Jackson hung a beachball slider over the plate to one of baseball’s most dangerous hitters.
Jackson, assigned to triple-A Buffalo ahead of Tuesday’s contest, believes he was unintentionally tipping his pitches during Monday’s outing, which the Yankees picked up on. It was subtle, but the 35-year-old feels they identified a slight difference in his delivery when throwing a fastball versus a slider.
The veteran right-hander was quicker with his wind-up after catcher Alejandro Kirk called for a heater rather than his breaking ball, and it was noticeable enough that New York’s hitters could decipher between the two.
“From what I was told, I was kind of tipping the pitch,” Jackson told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal via phone on Tuesday.
“It was (less) my grip when I was coming behind my ear. It was the time it was taking me from my set position, from my glove coming from my head to my hip. On fastballs, I was kind of doing it quicker than on sliders. They were kind of picking up on it.”
To prevent other teams from using this to their advantage, Jackson met with the Blue Jays’ video room analysts to determine what the Yankees may have been looking for and how to correct those tendencies prior to his next relief appearance.
“One of the guys told me I might have been tipping my pitches,” Jackson said. “Then the video guy came back later and said, ‘Hey, we might have picked something up on the difference between your slider and fastball. It might have been something those guys were keying off of. Just be conscious of it. You might want to change it up next time.’”
Kirk may also deserve part of the blame, as he could have been giving away location by setting up for a pitch too early. Danny Jansen experienced a similar incident in 2021 before it was rectified shortly afterwards.
Either way, the Blue Jays intend to do everything in their power to ensure they operate as cleanly as possible to remove any tactical advantages a team may have against them, like relaying signs or location.
“If you’re doing things in plain sight, I think that you have to be able to correct them and you have to be willing to have the consequences be what they are,” Schneider said. “If it’s done fairly, yeah, that’s part of the game, everyone’s looking to help their teammates, everyone’s looking to pick up on tendencies, so anything that’s happening on the field in the right way, totally fair game.”
It is also important to note, “No club personnel may communicate in any manner the opposing team’s signs or pitch Information to a batter, baserunner or coach on the field,” Regulation 1-1(B) states.
“The only exception to this rule is that a baserunner or coach on the field who identifies an opposing club’s signs or pitch information through his own unaided observation of the pitcher, catcher or opposing team’s dugout may communicate that information to the batter or another on-field coach.”
The Yankees were fined $100,000 for using their dugout phone to inform batters about opposing pitcher’s signs during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. They also used the video replay room to analyze teams’ pitch sequencing through sign calling.
New York wasn’t alone in that regard, either, as it became a regular occurrence across baseball before Major League Baseball enforced a sport-wide crackdown ahead of the 2018 campaign.
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