Call it the yips, call it nerves, a mental block or control issues. One thing is clear: When Cubs’ left-hander Jon Lester isn’t throwing at the strike zone, he looks completely lost. Routine plays to first base often end up missing their mark, and when it comes to pickoff attempts — well, he gave those up a while ago.
Saturday was different. With two outs in the fifth inning, Lester walked the Cardinals’ Tommy Pham and had started pitching to Stephen Piscotty when Pham took a generous lead off the bag. There was no stealth in Lester’s game — he turned slowly and lobbed the ball at Anthony Rizzo, who caught Pham off the base — but after two years without successfully executing a single pickoff throw, maybe he didn’t need it.
According to MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat, it was Lester’s first pickoff move since September 2015, and just the 27th of his 12-year career. Watch the full play unfold below:
Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Giants are engaged in “serious discussions” with the Reds to acquire center fielder Billy Hamilton. Talks are apparently advanced enough that a deal could be completed before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday.
It’s no secret that the Giants would like to make an upgrade in the outfield this offseason, as the club has also been linked to Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. Currently, the Giants’ outfield consists of Denard Span, Hunter Pence, and Jarrett Parker.
Hamilton, 27, owns a meager .248/.298/.334 batting line across parts of five seasons in the majors with the Reds. However, he has plenty of speed, having stolen at least 56 bases in each of the last four seasons. Hamilton is also well-regarded for his defense, which would be a boon at spacious AT&T Park.
Hamilton is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He’s projected to earn $5 million for this coming season. Buchanan notes that the Rangers are also interested in potentially acquiring Hamilton.