Cardinals’ Willson Contreras debacle, Kenley Jansen conquers the pitch clock

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The past week has been tumultuous for the Chicago Cubs and their star catcher Willson Contreras. On Thursday, August 12th, Contreras was hit by a pitch from St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kwang Hyun Kim and suffered a strained right knee. While the injury did not seem serious at first, Contreras was placed on the 10-day injured list the following day. That was just the beginning of a series of unfortunate events for the Cubs and Contreras.

On Saturday, August 14th, Contreras faced off against Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley. Helsley threw a fastball up and in that Contreras reacted to by slamming his bat to the ground. Plate umpire Jordan Baker immediately ejected Contreras, prompting the fiery catcher to go on a tirade and throw his equipment onto the field. This led to a lengthy suspension for Contreras, who was banned for two games and fined an undisclosed amount by MLB.

The situation was complicated further by both the Cubs and Cardinals throwing at each other in retaliation throughout the weekend series. Cardinals star Nolan Arenado was hit in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, prompting Cardinals manager Mike Shildt to argue with the umpires and eventually get ejected. Cubs pitcher Adbert Alzolay was then ejected from the game for throwing behind Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina in the fifth inning. The intense rivalry between these two teams was on full display and Contreras’ outburst became the centerpiece of a chaotic weekend.

While the Cubs were struggling with Contreras’ incident, Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers quietly made history by becoming the first pitcher to conquer MLB’s new pitch clock rule. Starting this season, MLB implemented a 20-second pitch clock in an effort to expedite the pace of play. The rule, which gives pitchers 20 seconds to deliver a pitch once the batter steps into the box, had received mixed reactions from players and fans alike. However, Jansen put all the concerns to rest when he retired the side in order in 12 seconds on Wednesday, August 11th, against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Jansen, who has been known for his deliberate pace on the mound, had initially expressed reservations about the rule change, but he quickly adapted and mastered it. His performance served as a test case for the pitch clock, and he passed it with flying colors. As MLB looks to find ways to speed up the game, Jansen’s success will undoubtedly be seen as a win for the rule changes.

While Contreras’ meltdown and the ensuing chaos left a contentious cloud over the Cubs-Cardinals weekend series, Jansen’s pitch clock mastery was a bright spot for the league. With the season winding down and the playoffs fast approaching, these moments will continue to shape the narrative for both teams and players in the weeks to come.

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