Marcus Stroman has been suspended for six games and fined an undisclosed amount of money for the incident which took on Monday night in Baltimore, where he threw high and hard behind the head of Orioles’ C Caleb Joseph. Marcus Stroman has since appealed the suspension, which would eliminate his Friday start in New York against the Yankees.
Marcus Stroman’s aggression on the mound was linked to a play earlier in the game, when Joseph moved his foot at the last moment to block the plate on a Jose Reyes slide, causing the Blue Jays shortstop to jam his hand. The Jays dugout was noticeably irate at the play, but Joseph’s actions certainly did not call for the dangerous escalation from the young Blue Jays pitcher.
In anticipation of the MLB’s ruling, it was outlined by Kyle Franzoni that, surprisingly, some sources expected no punishment at all for Marcus Stroman. Orioles Manager Buck Showalter was clearly very upset following the game, and even Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons told reporters before Tuesday’s game that “I expect they’ll do something stiff”.
The argument has arisen that Marcus Stroman does not deserve this suspension because his pitch did not strike Joseph, but the dangerous nature of the pitch itself makes this a sensible decision from the MLB. Given the careful climate around player safety following the graphic injury to Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins, the league office will likely look to come down hard on any pitchers who retaliate like Stroman did.
Another debate exists entirely over whether throwing at Caleb Joseph was the right thing to do, regardless of the placement of the pitch. There is a right way and a wrong way to send a message in baseball. For instance, look at Orioles reliever Darren O’Day last night, who beamed Jose Bautista after Aaron Loup had hit Nick Markakis with a pitch one inning earlier. The pitch caught Bautista in his side, and O’Day accomplished his mission without risking any serious injury to the Blue Jays star. Of course, the possibility of a broken rib or finger is still present, but those injuries are much less critical than injuries to the head, which can be career-altering.
In his defence, Marcus Stroman has expressed remorse over the incident, and claimed that he would like to reach out to Caleb Joseph to apologize. This will be a valuable lesson learned for Stroman moving forward on the mythical “unwritten rules” and “code” of Major League Baseball. As a fiery competitor with more confidence than some entire rotations, Marcus Stroman is the type of pitcher that will often be tempted to make statements such as this for his ball club. Next time, he should choose to aim thigh, not high.