Prior to tonight, new Cubs left-hander Jon Lester hadn’t made a pickoff throw to first base since April 30, 2013. That’s right, nearly two years. If you watch the video linked here, you’ll know why.
Here’s a look at the aftermath of pickoff throw in the second inning tonight:
Anthony Rizzo is lucky he didn’t get seriously hurt here. He ran into the runner’s path back to first base and could have injured his knee. Fortunately, Jorge Soler bailed out Lester with a fantastic throw to nail Zack Cozart at third base. Lester and the Cubs keep trying to downplay any talks of him having the “yips” with pickoff throws, but teams are going to keep running on him until he finds a way to combat it.
By the way, Lester gave up six runs on 10 hits over six innings against the Reds tonight. His ERA sits at 7.84 through two starts with Chicago.
Correction: This was Lester’s second pickoff throw of the game. The initial version of this post indicated that this was his first. My apologies for the error.
Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.
While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.
Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.
Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”
Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.
If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.