Jon Lester is Doing…What?

Baseball twitter had some fun with Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester on Sunday, after Lester unleashed one of his trademark brutal throws toward first base.

Little did Fox Sports Arizona (or any of us) know, this is actually part of Jon Lester and 3rd base/infield coach Brian Butterfield’s master plan.

Lester is infamous for his inability to throw to bases, once going over a full calendar year without attempting a pickoff throw (I think it was 2015-16, but don’t hold me to that). Here’s my personal favorite Lester moment:

This is game 7 of the World Series. Game freaking 7. And look at Lester. Just casually standing on the mound, no interest whatsoever in pursuing that baseball. Would Lester have made the play? I have no idea. But I do know he has a better shot at it than David Ross. His fear of throwing to bases is so crippling, he just freezes on the mound. That’s promising.

BUT WAIT. It’ll all be okay now because Lester and Butterfield have devised a plan for Lester to intentionally bounce the ball to first base. Much like he did in the twitter clip above. To that, I say HAHAHAHA WHAT??

The bounce throw in baseball is not an entirely new concept.

Dave Concepcion and Mike Schmidt made it famous in the late 70s and early 80s. Josh Donaldson and Evan Longoria have occasionally carried out the trend in recent years. But here’s the thing about those four guys: they all played on the left side of the infield. And they all played their home game on AstroTurf. Where, ya know, the ball bounces better.

When an infielder has to go to their left, the throw to first becomes longer. The bounce throw for those guys is more a way to preserve your arm and provide the first baseman with a move favorable bounce. It’s not for whatever reason Jon Lester is doing it. (I couldn’t find any clips, so it’s really your choice if you want to believe me or not)

The clip above shows Lester throwing the ball away, and the runner ends up on second. Lester said he had only worked on bouncing the ball to Anthony Rizzo. But here’s the deal, that ball took a vicious hop. Rizzo may have been able to knock it down because he knew it was coming, but the Cubs would not have gotten an out there.

Intentionally bouncing a baseball on a grass field seems like a recipe for disaster. People throw the ball in the air for a reason. Either get on board or just don’t make the damn throw Jon.

My favorite thing about Jon Lester? Glad you asked. The dude gets paid $27.5 million a year to throw a baseball. But when it comes to throwing the ball more than 60’6, he looks like a 3 year old playing tee-ball for the first time. Love it.

-Brian Borders (@bborders12)

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