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Major League Baseball should amend replay review for on/off base disputes

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The Cubs won Thursday’s NLDS Game 5 by a 9-8 score over the Nationals and were aided in part by replay review in the eighth inning, helping Wade Davis escape a jam. The Nationals had scored a run on a Michael Taylor RBI single, cutting their deficit to one run. Lobaton kept the rally going with a line drive single up the middle.

The next batter, Trea Turner, worked a 1-1 count against Davis, then took a cut fastball for ball two. Catcher Willson Contreras snapped a throw back to first base as Lobaton had stayed a bit too far off the bag. Lobaton awkwardly slid back into the first base bag and was initially ruled safe. The Cubs challenged, however, as Lobaton’s foot appeared to pop off of the first base bag for a microsecond while first baseman Anthony Rizzo still had his glove on him. The call was overturned, Lobaton was out, and the Nationals’ rally was over.

The ultimate ruling was correct: Lobaton, indeed, was out. Furthermore, the slow-footed Lobaton shouldn’t have been straying so far from first base. He was at fault, for sure. But it feels unfair to use replay review in this manner. Both teams’ success or failure hinged on Lobaton’s foot coming off of the bag for one-sixteenth of a second. It’s a technicality, like coming back to your car at 10:01 only to see the meter maid walking away and a ticket on your windshield.

The spirit of replay review wasn’t about microscopic technicalities, it was about getting certain calls right: home run/not a home run, fair/foul, safe/out (in other areas, obviously, given this argument). Major League Baseball should greatly consider amending the rules to make it so that a player simply returning to the bag is grounds to be called safe, ending the pedantry of these types of reviews. Semi-related: a switch from above-ground bases to flat bases would be a welcome change as well.

Matthew Pouliot made a great point on Twitter. What we’re asking of with players, expecting them to stay on the bag at all times while sliding back, is not realistic. Pouliot adds that an unintended consequence of these types of reviews is seeing more players sliding head-first into bases and, as such, suffering more hand injuries. Even if the “spirit of the rule” argument doesn’t jibe, the player health angle should.

Mets place Noah Syndergaard on 10-day injured list with hamstring strain

Noah Syndergaard
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Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard has been placed on the 10-day injured list, the club announced Sunday. Syndergaard was removed from Saturday’s outing against the Cardinals after sustaining a bout of tightness in his right hamstring, which now appears to necessitate some time on the shelf.

It’s an unfortunate development for the 26-year-old, who has struggled to pitch to consistent results over his 2019 campaign so far. Through Saturday’s 8-7 win over St. Louis, he carries a 5-4 record in 15 starts with a 4.55 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, 8.8 SO/9, and 2.0 fWAR across 95 innings. He pitched through six solid innings on Saturday, allowing five runs, two walks, and five strikeouts, but couldn’t stay to finish out the seventh and limped off the field after giving up a leadoff single to Yairo Muñoz.

For now, Syndergaard is expected to miss at least one start, though the Mets won’t be able to project a timetable for his return to the mound until he undergoes further evaluation. They also have yet to determine a suitable replacement in the rotation, and MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo suggests that their internal options are currently limited to lefty reliever Seth Lugo, prospect Anthony Kay, and rookie Walker Lockett.