Strickland, Harper issued suspensions following brawl

Hunter Strickland and Bryce Harper learned their fate following Monday afternoon’s brawl. Strickland was issued a six-game suspension with an undisclosed fine, Harper will get four with his own undisclosed fine.

Strickland told reporters that he will appeal the suspension:

“I’m not thrilled about (the suspension), but it’s their call.”

Harper is expected to appeal his as well.

In theory, the punishment seems about even given each player’s role, at least a first glance. Strickland has been a key set up man for the Giants, toting a 1.53 ERA. Before yesterday, when Harper’s pinch runner went on to score, Strickland hadn’t given up a run since May 11. Strickland got the bigger punishment for “intentionally hitting Harper with a pitch,” according to the MLB press release, and “inciting the bench-clearing incident and fighting.” Harper received a lesser punishment for “charging the mound, throwing his helmet and fighting.”

In practice, this is a bigger blow for the Nationals than the Giants. Washington loses its MVP for around 36 at bats. The Giants lose their set up man for 1-3 innings. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said Bryan Morris and George Kontos will fill in as  the setup man in Strickland’s absence.

Strickland articulated before Tuesday’s game that he hoped to move on from last night’s events. Bochy mirrored that sentiment:

“It happened. It’s over, and now we can move on. … We can’t lose focus, we’re trying to win some games. We’ve been struggling and we’re trying to get out of it.”

The pair of suspensions look to be the only ramifications from this whole debacle. Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija, who’s starting Tuesday’s game, are not injured. Hunter Pence, who was not supposed to go on the field as his current status on the disable list leaves him off the current 25-man roster, received neither a fine or suspension.

National media paid a lot of focus on what Buster Posey did not do in the moments before punches were thrown. It’s typical that the catcher at least attempts to stop the charging batter before things get too heated. Posey stayed out of the way for a few seconds and then sprinted toward the mound when things started to get ugly.

Looking through past incidents in which Posey was behind the dish for a brawl or altercation, which usually involve Madison Bumgarner, is revealing.

Bumgarner has been involved in several skirmishes with the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig a few times; last year the pair got into it after the inning ended and Posey approached the outskirts of the scrum.

Posey popped up immediately to hold San Diego’s Jesus Guzman, who took issue with Bumgarner’s HBP in a 2013 game.

Just this year, Posey straight up walked away from another Dodgers/Giants altercation, this time involving Johnny Cueto and Yasmani Grandal.

One explanation is that Posey, the team’s franchise player, might have clear instructions to stay out brawls. And he seems more than willing to adhere to that rule. Another is that Posey, who also steers clear of positive dog piles fueled by victories such as the 2014 NLCS , is considering the ramifications of his actions in regards to his surgically repaired left ankle.

Either way, Strickland said he didn’t take issue with Posey’s non-action:

“I know Buster has our back as a group and a team.”

Bochy didn’t think it was odd at all:

“They’re gonna find anything to say about everything involving a brawl.”


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.