WATCH: Maddon explains his protest; Sean Doolittle has fiery response

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Cubs skipper Joe Maddon essentially defended Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. with his protest. (Credit: Michael Mcloone-USA TODAY Sports
Cubs skipper Joe Maddon essentially defended Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. with his protest. (Credit: Michael Mcloone-USA TODAY Sports

The ending of Saturday's matchup between the Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals was quite interesting, as the Cubs played out most of the ninth inning under protest after Cubs manager Joe Maddon took umbrage with the delivery of Nationals closer Sean Doolittle. Maddon argued to the umpires that Doolittle was performing a toe tap during his windup that was illegal, but the umpires sloughed off the complaint. Therefore, the Cubs protested their 5-2 loss that came to a close when Doolittle sat the Cubs down in order in the top of the ninth.

The impetus for Maddon's protest was that, earlier this season, Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. was told by MLB officials that his new windup, which featured a hesitation and a toe tap prior to the delivery of the pitch, was illegal. Therefore, Maddon went up in arms over Doolittle's unique delivery not long after the closer took the mound.

Speaking to the media following the game, Maddon explained the reasoning behind his protest. "That's exactly what I was told Carl can't do," Maddon said, referencing Edwards' banned delivery. "There's no judgment. If he taps the ground, it's an illegal pitch. Period. There's nothing to judge."

While Doolittle's unorthodox delivery is not as stark as the one concocted by Edwards prior to the beginning of the season, it is easy to see why Maddon would take issue with it being allowed, as the windup is quite similar to the one futilely adopted by Edwards. Edwards' early-season struggles likely provided Maddon with added incentive to protest. After all, Edwards disappointed off and on throughout the second half of last season and quickly had his newfangled delivery nixed at the start of the 2019 campaign. Ever since then, Edwards has not fared too well on the mound and was even demoted to the minors at one point.

"They took it away from our guy," Maddon said about Edwards' outlawed pitching method, "so for me to sit in the dugout and permit that to happen, while they stripped us of that ability earlier this year with Carl, how could I do that?"

Doolittle was asked about the controversy in his postgame media session, and he was rather blunt in expressing his frustration with Maddon, sardonically saying, "Sometimes, he has to remind people how smart he is.”

For what it is worth, Sam Holbrook, the crew chief of the contest's umpiring unit, told the press that Doolittle did nothing wrong and that the protest was filed with the MLB office merely as protocol, although no in-game replay review was conducted. Should the protest prove successful for Maddon, which is incredibly doubtful, the game would revert back to when the protest was filed with one out in the top of the ninth and would be replayed from that point forward.

Update: The Cubs' front office revealed to the media on Sunday that the organization did not follow through in filing an official appeal of Saturday's outcome and thereby dropped the protest.

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