Inside MLB's crackdown on pitchers using foreign substances: Why now -- and why it's so important

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It's May 20, and there already have been six no-hitters in Major League Baseball, two shy of the record for an entire season, set in 1884.

The sixth was thrown by New York Yankees right-hander Corey Kluber in Arlington, Texas, on Wednesday night. Kluber's outing marked the 11th time a pitcher had completed at least seven no-hit innings in 2021, a new record through the end of May since the league expanded in 1961. It was the fourth no-hitter in a span of 15 days.

No-hitters are fun, even as they become a bit diluted, but hitting has never been more difficult. And the league is hellbent on correcting that.

The experiments taking place at the lower levels have received most of the attention. But just as important is what's going on in the majors, where the league is starting to crack down on pitchers' use of foreign substances like never before.

What follows is an explainer of how we got here, why it's so important and what might be done next.