Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija have both been suspended five games for their pretty obvious roles in escalating Thursday night's brouhaha with the Kansas City Royals. Chris Sale was even reported to have attempted to get into the Royals locker room after the game to confront Yordano Venturea, and Jeff Samardzija was...well, here's a picture.
We can blame the Royals for being annoying provocateurs all we want--and why not; they're jerks--but that fight is over, Yordano Ventura is not going to bat against Samardzija anytime soon, and now all is left is the headache of trying to squeeze in five-game absences for two of three Sox starters worth starting.
MLB has always had a hard time punishing starting pitchers, who have tons of days off built into the schedule. Even missing five straight is more akin to having a start pushed back a day rather than missing the full turn, and navigating it is a small hassle. Moving around two high-value starters is a slightly different beast, and leaves us wondering how the Sox can stagger things out.
Having one guy go on the shelf while the other appeals might have worked, but both Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija are appealing. It's their negotiated right to do so and they should not be criticized for taking it, especially if it helps knock off a game or two. Samardzija threw punches, and Sale tried to invade the opposing team's locker room, so who knows what their appeal case is based on, but if they both get their decisions at once, the Sox might need a spot start from both Carlos Rodon and another. Here's a reminder that Brad Penny has a 8.68 ERA in Triple-A Charlotte and has struck out two batters in 9.1 innings. Erik Johnson's looking interesting (One earned run, four walks, 13 strikeouts in 12 innings).
To really hit home the "brawls are actually stupid and bad" point more than some small time off for the Sox two best pitchers (yes, Quintana's fumbling around has me conceding this point for now), Matt Albers is unavailable for the next 15 days at a minimum because he broke a finger in the melee and has been placed on the disabled list. The Sox bullpen has stabilized nicely of recent, but this is a guy who's allowed one run and five baserunners in 5.2 innings going on the shelf because everyone has to rush the field and show their presence for every minor conflict, per baseball broman etiquette.
Albers wasn't noticeably involved in any major portion of the fighting beyond everyone pushing and shoving, which leads me to the question of why MLB has sat around impotently while other leagues have managed to stomp out the practice of players from the bench getting involved and accelerating conflicts. Reacting in the immediate grief of injuries often leads to overcorrection, but now that we're days apart from just wishing ill on the Royals and left with the aftermath, the aftermath feels very dumb.
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