Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal writes that Mike Pelfrey’s “propensity for licking his hand is unrivaled in baseball.”
So naturally Costa tracked how many times Pelfrey actually licked his hand while on the mound for Tuesday’s start against the Marlins at Citi Field and the final tally was 89.
And he only pitched six innings, so Pelfrey’s pitch-to-lick ratio was 116-to-89. Pelfrey then explained himself:
It’s something I’ve always done. I think it becomes an issue where people tell me, instead of licking my hand, it looks like I’m licking my whole arm. That’s why it gets brought up. Guys have talked about, “Ahhh, you’re eating your whole hand.”
Pelfrey also explained that the added moisture helps him grip the ball and all the licking was legal, according to umpire Fieldin Culbreth, because “it is permissible for a pitcher to lick his hand as long as he wipes it on his uniform immediately afterward.”
But as rotation-mate R.A. Dickey told Costa: “Mike is a little bit over the top.”
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.
The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.
Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.
Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”