Jon Lester and the Cubs are downplaying what appears to be an inability to throw the ball to first base.
Of course they are. If the Cubs’ $155 million man has a bona fide case of the yips, the only thing that can cure it is to get it out of his head. That means dismissing the problem and hoping it goes away on its own.
Lester went nearly two years without attempting a pickoff throw to first, and on Monday we found out exactly why.
The first of his two throws Monday pulled Anthony Rizzo off first base by about two steps.
One pitch later, Lester threw over again and sent the ball sailing down the right-field line. Right fielder Jorge Soler bailed Lester out by picking up the ball and throwing out Zack Cozart trying trying to go all the way to third.
Watch the play (and the pickoff attempts):
It’s too early to panic about Lester’s “yips” after only two starts, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on. You can bet other teams will be taking advantage of long leads for as long as the problem persists.
Lester addressed the issue during the postgame press conference Tuesday.
“The second one, I got a little excited. I looked over there and the guy was going the other direction,” Lester said. “And when you’re not used to doing stuff like that, I just got a little overexcited and tried to throw the ball a little bit too soon.”
All the rest of Lester’s comments can be found here.