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:
The Rockies announced a minor swap of relief pitchers on Monday evening. The Cubs sent lefty Zac Rosscup to the Rockies in exchange for right-hander Matt Carasiti.
Rosscup, 29, was designated for assignment by the Cubs last Thursday. He spent only two-thirds of an inning in the majors this year and has a 5.32 career ERA across 47 1/3 innings. Rosscup has spent most of the season with Triple-A Iowa, posting a 2.60 ERA in 27 2/3 innings.
Carasiti, 25, spent 15 2/3 innings in the majors last year, putting up an ugly 9.19 ERA. With Triple-A Albuquerque this season, he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 43/13 K/BB ratio in 30 1/3 innings.
The Associated Press reported that on Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed a district court ruling which holds that the minor leagues are exempt from federal antitrust law, just like the major leagues.
In 2015, four minor leaguers sued Major League Baseball, alleging that MLB violated antitrust laws with its hiring and employment policies. They accused MLB of “restrain[ing] horizontal competition between and among” franchises and “artificially and illegally depressing” the salaries of minor league players.
The U.S. Court of Appeals said the players failed to state an antitrust claim, as the Curt Flood Act of 1998 exempted Minor League Baseball explicitly from antitrust laws.
This case is separate from the Aaron Senne case in which Major League Baseball is accused of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. That case was recertified as a class action lawsuit in March. In December, Major League Baseball established a political action committee (PAC), which came months after two members of Congress sought to change language in the FLSA so that minor league players could continue to be paid substandard wages.