Ricky Nolasco runs afoul of the new finger licking rule

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Ricky Nolasco 2.jpgThere’s a new rule in place this year that, for the first time, allows pitchers to lick their fingers while on the mound as long as (a) they’re not on the rubber when you do it; and (b) they wipe their hand on their shirt or their pants or something before they grab the ball. Previously guys had to step completely off the mound to do it, which led to a lot of leisurely strolls the powers that be don’t like to see anymore due to pace-of-the game issues.

The Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco thought he was taking advantage of it last night when he went to his mouth, except he was on the rubber when he did it and was thus immediately charged with a ball. The night before Fernando Nieve had a ball charged to him too, not because he was on the rubber — he was on the grass — but because he didn’t wipe his hand off first.

I guess I understand the new rule and I also understand why it might take those creatures of habit we call pitchers a while to get used to it. What I don’t understand is what licking your fingers does for you if you just have to wipe them off a second later.

Bob Tufts: you out there? What’s the story?

Johnny Cueto expected to opt-out of his deal after the season

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Johnny Cueto signed a six-year $130 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. In his first season he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, helping lead the Giants to the playoffs. This season has been rocky for Cueto — he’s got a a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts and has battled blisters — but they’ve been far rockier for the Giants overall, as they sit in last place in the NL West and have the second worst record in baseball.

Many suspect that the Giants will either rebuild or, at the very least, restructure some in response to this nightmare year. If so, they’re likely going to be doing it with Cueto, who Jon Heyman reports is going to opt-out of his deal:

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is planning to opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but he would listen to any extension offer . . . Cueto has $84 million to go over four years. It would probably take an injury or major slump for Cueto not to opt out. But it makes sense that he will.

Heyman says the Giants are not inclined to give him an extension, so expect to see Cueto on the free agent market three days after the World Series ends, which is the deadline for him to exercise his opt-out rights.

The Dodgers are concerned about Julio Urias’ shoulder

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Things are going great for the Dodgers lately. They’ve won seven consecutive games and 13 of their last 14. They lead the National League in wins and are in first place in, arguably, the best division in baseball.

But there are a lot of moving parts on a baseball team, and even when some things are going great, other things can go not-so-great. Like this:

Urias has been diagnosed with shoulder inflammation and shut down indefinitely. An MRI last week showed no structural damage, but his shoulder is still bothering him. He has not pitched in the bigs since late May, when he allowed seven runs in less than three innings against the Miami Marlins. He was sent down after that and went 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA, six walks and 17 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched in three starts with Oklahoma City before being shelved.