Attention Chicago Cubs’ fans, there’s no need to panic – Jon Lester‘s outing against the St. Louis Cardinals doesn’t necessarily mean that the season is already over. It was one (not so bad) game.
But you have to admit, the lack of pick-off’s is something that needs to be worked on. During Sunday’s Opening Night coverage on ESPN2, it was noted several times that Lester hasn’t made a pick-off move in nearly two years. Not quite sure how that’s possible, but it appears that it is possible to go that long without attempting to keep a runner honest.
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At one point in the game, Chicago’s southpaw had the opportunity to throw Jason Heyward out at third base on a ground ball that he had fielded. Instead, he chose to take the easy out, tossing the ball to Anthony Rizzo at first-base.
Shortly after the game wrapped as the Cardinals shutout the Cubs 3-0, people began to ask some serious questions. This is when fans started to buzz, insisting that other teams scheduled to play against Lester were going to expose this weakness and use it to their advantage as much as they possibly could.
Now according to ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers, Lester and skipper Joe Maddon sounded off on this issue Wednesday morning after meeting with reporters. Lester (0-1, 6.23 ERA) told the media that he has no issue throwing to first with a runner on, while Maddon believes that it’s something they’ll work on until he’s comfortable.
"“I really didn’t have to do it over the past year or so. Coming over here is a little bit different, more runners, part of the game. Something we’ll implement. This was not a big issue until someone brought it up on television. Now I’m sitting answering questions about it.” – Lester via ESPN Chicago."
Assuming Lester picks up 32 starts in his first year with the Cubs, there’s more than enough time to work on this issue throughout the season – even if things appear to be a little rough.
"“That’s not something you grind on someone because that can be counter-productive. You work on it, you work on it until someone becomes more comfortable with it then you do it. From the outside looking it should be relatively easy but for some people it’s harder for others. We’ll continue to work on it.” – Maddon via ESPN Chicago."
Lester’s next scheduled start should come against the Cincinnati Reds next week after the teams brief three game weekend road trip to Colorado.