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Lance Lynn has been exactly what the Chicago White Sox have needed

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You get the feeling that if the first place Chicago White Sox asked veteran starter Lance Lynn to pitch on two days’ rest he’d shrug his shoulders and take the ball.

And then go out there and throw 100 pitches with ease.

Lynn was actually lined up to pitch on three days’ rest, but a rainout altered the plans – and his routine for the week.

No worries. Back on his regular day, Lynn threw six innings of one-run ball against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, keeping himself squarely in the early running for the American League Cy Young award. He may even be the leader.

“He’s earned a really outstanding reputation for being honest and competing as hard as he can,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said after the 4-1 win.

Lynn and La Russa go back to the last time the manager was in the dugout, in 2011, when both were with the St. Louis Cardinals. Since then, Lynn’s reputation has evolved into a no-nonsense pitcher whose bulldog moniker fits his look and personality. Lynn is the very definition of a low maintenance player.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Lynn said. “You try to take the ball every five days and go as long as you can and help the team. When you leave the game you gave your team a chance to win that day. That’s always been my motto as long as I can remember, even when I was a little kid.”

Lynn’s season to this point has looked easy even if he hasn’t given his team as much length on the mound as he might want. Only one of his 10 starts has lasted less than five innings but only two have gone more than six. That’s the number he went on Thursday though he claimed he could have gone deeper into the game.

But that’s baseball in today’s era. His minuscule 1.23 ERA — the best for a White Sox pitcher through 10 starts since Eddie Cicotte in 1919 — says volumes about his season even if the total innings don’t. He just doesn’t give up much. The Tigers loaded the bases in the second inning, but that rally ended quickly when Lynn struck out Jake Rogers on three pitches.

“I don’t have to be a max effort guy to get outs,” Lynn explained. “When you look at it, I’ve got the ability to change speeds with the fastball and do some things.”

Maybe that’s why it looks so easy. Lynn can hold back for later in an outing, or in this case, later in the season. The White Sox have October aspirations and that’s likely when the workhorse will come out in the 34 year-old. Asked what Lynn has brought to the White Sox this season, his catcher didn’t hesitate.

“Intent,” Yasmani Grandal said. “He knows exactly what he wants to do. He wants to attack guys and he wants to attack the strike zone.”

Simple enough. In fact, Lynn has perfected simple. His acquisition, via an offseason trade with the Texas Rangers, could go down as one of the best winter moves in all of baseball. The Sox traded a young starter, righty Dane Dunning, knowing they only had one year of Lynn before he became a free agent.

Chicago hasn’t thought twice about the deal. Lynn was exactly what the team needed to help take them to another level. He and La Russa have been tasked with exactly that.

“We have history together,” La Russa stated.

If La Russa had to earn the trust of his young players, it was already there with Lynn. It’s why the three days’ rest idea was an easy one to navigate. Of course Lynn would take the ball and of course La Russa would trust him to be honest if he didn’t feel right. The two have picked up where they left off a decade ago.

“I wasn’t worried about it,” Lynn said of pitching on three days’ rest. “We didn’t have to do it but if there comes a time in October when it needs to happen, obviously, I’ll be more than willing to let it fly.”

Was there any doubt?

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New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom leaves start with right flexor tendinitis

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New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom was pulled after six innings in his start against the San Diego Padres on Friday night due to right flexor tendinitis, the team said.

DeGrom was removed after throwing six shutout innings in continuation of his dominant start to the 2021 season. He struck out 10 batters and allowed only a single off the bat of San Diego’s Wil Myers. He lowered his ERA to 0.56 this season.

DeGrom, speaking after the game, said he felt the elbow injury in between starts this week. He said it tightened up on him in the sixth inning, leading to his exit.

“I am not too concerned about it because it did not get much worse as the game went on,” he said. “Whenever you say elbow, everybody gets nervous about that. I am not too worried about it. Hopefully it’s something we can treat.”

DeGrom said team trainers did several ligament tests and everything checked out well. He added that he’s hopeful he can make his next scheduled start.

The Mets led 3-0 when deGrom left the game, in part because of his two-run single off Padres lefty Blake Snell in the fifth. DeGrom has now driven in five runs as a hitter this season. As a pitcher, he has allowed just four earned runs in 64 innings to begin the campaign.

DeGrom’s seventh strikeout gave him 100 on the season. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, that is the fewest innings by a starter to reach 100 strikeouts in a single season since the mound moved to its current distance in 1893.

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New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom leaves start with right flexor tendinitis

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New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom was pulled after six innings in his start against the San Diego Padres on Friday night due to right flexor tendinitis, the team said.

DeGrom was removed after throwing six shutout innings in continuation of his dominant start to the 2021 season. He struck out 10 batters and allowed only a single off the bat of San Diego’s Wil Myers. He lowered his ERA to 0.56 this season.

The Mets led 3-0 when deGrom left the game, in part because of his two-run single off Padres lefty Blake Snell in the fifth. DeGrom has now driven in five runs as a hitter this season. As a pitcher, he has allowed just four earned runs in 64 innings to begin the campaign.

DeGrom’s seventh strikeout gave him 100 on the season. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, that is the fewest innings by a starter to reach 100 strikeouts in a single season since the mound moved to its current distance in 1893.

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Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo waiting for more ‘data’ on COVID-19 vaccine

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CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said he understands the controversy surrounding his decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but explained that he is “taking some more time to see the data in all of it.”

The Cubs are one of eight teams in baseball who haven’t reached the 85% vaccination threshold, which would allow for a loosening of restrictions. They’re still required to wear masks in the dugout and need permission to leave their hotel on the road, for example.

Rizzo, 31, is a cancer survivor who meets regularly with young cancer patients, though that has been on hold during the pandemic. He said he knows his decision not to get the vaccine has drawn strong reactions from both sides of the debate, adding that he’s “definitely not against getting it.”

“I love my teammates and love this franchise,” he said after the Cubs’ 8-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. “This is bigger than baseball. This is a life decision. It weighed hard. It’s a decision I made and I stand with, and obviously there are people that are going to hate me and think I’m disgusting. And there are going to be people that side with me, but it’s out in the open.”

Rizzo didn’t get specific with his reasons for not taking the vaccine. He and his teammates have had an ongoing discussion about getting to the 85% threshold. Shortstop Javier Baez is doing PSAs for vaccine awareness.

“We discuss it,” Baez said. “If you want to call it, ‘we argued about it,’ but at the end of the day, we respect each other.

“He just doesn’t believe in it right now, and we respect his decision. … The vaccine was made pretty fast, and a lot of people don’t believe in it. I got vaccinated because I have kids and want to protect them.”

Rizzo didn’t seem to be against the vaccine, per se. In fact, he was thrilled to see Wrigley Field at 100% capacity for one of his most memorable at-bats. With the Cubs trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the 6th inning, Rizzo saw 13 pitches from reliever Daniel Ponce de Leon before taking the 14th one out to right field to tie the game.

“Towards the fifth, sixth, seventh pitch, everyone started getting into it more,” Rizzo recalled. “It almost, in a way, helped me calm down and relax. I kept saying to myself, ‘Stay locked in, stay locked in.’

Cubs manager David Ross likened the at-bat to one then-teammate Alex Cora had with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004. That one lasted 18 pitches.

“I’ll remember this one for a long time,” Ross said.

Rizzo added: “It was definitely one of my most memorable at-bats.”

Rizzo fouled off six pitches in a row before taking Ball 2, then fouled off three more before going deep.

“I saw all of his pitches, so it was a matter of getting one to hit,” Rizzo explained. “He did a good job of flirting with one up, where it’s too close to take. Fortunately, for me, I put a good swing on it and had a good result.”

The home run came after Rizzo revealed on his own paid radio segment on ESPN 1000 in Chicago that he had not taken the vaccine.

“I think whenever you come out with any decision that’s the big topic, it’s not easy one way or another,” Rizzo said. “This is a big topic. There’s a lot of lives being saved from this vaccine. There’s a lot of people getting back to their normal life. That’s what we want.”

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