Jon Lester‘s mild case of the yips is well known. It was front and center in the playoffs last year when runners greedily took extra-long leads off first base, knowing he lacked confidence in his ability to throw over to first base. A pickoff for Lester is so notable that it earned a standalone post from us earlier this year when he did it during the regular season.
Lester entered Game 4 of the NLDS on Wednesday in the fifth inning in relief of starter Jake Arrieta. He had pitched three shutout innings when he took the hill in the eighth. The lefty walked Ryan Zimmerman with one out. Zimmerman, unsurprisingly, started taking a big lead off of first base. After falling behind 1-0 to Daniel Murphy, Lester decided to summon up his courage and throw over to first base. He spiked a one-hopper to first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Zimmerman got back to the bag. Lester decided to throw over again. It was a little off the mark, as Rizzo had to reach for it, but he swiped Zimmerman’s left foot. He was ruled safe, but Cubs skipper Joe Maddon challenged the ruling and it was overturned, giving Lester a pickoff in the playoffs.
The Cubs, though, lost Wednesday’s contest 5-0 and will have to battle the Nationals again in a pivotal Game 5 of Thursday.