Bryce Harper Suspension: Former MVP Suspended Four Games, Pitcher Hunter Strickland Receives Six Game Ban

Bryce Harper’s suspension has come down from Major League Baseball. Harper has been suspended for four games, while pitcher Hunter Strickland, who started a brawl between the San Francisco Giants and Washington National on Monday (May 29), has received a six-game ban. A report by MLB analyst Bob Nightengale confirms the suspensions, noting that both players are going to appeal them. The two players have also been fined undisclosed amounts for the incident that took place on Memorial Day.

The Nationals were leading the Giants 2-0 on Monday when Harper came up to the plate in the top of the eighth inning. Strickland threw a 98 mph fastball directly at Harper, intentionally hitting him on the side. Rather than going to first base, Harper instead charged the mound, resulting in both players getting ejected from the game. Major League Baseball came down hard on Strickland for inciting the brawl, meaning the reliever could miss as many as six games.

This is bad news for the Washington Nationals, as the Bryce Harper suspension takes away the best hitter in their lineup. For now, both Harper and Hunter Strickland will remain on the active rosters for their respective teams, as the appeals process will get underway. It’s unclear what either player is trying to appeal here, as it has been very obvious to fans and analysts that Strickland should not have started the brawl and Harper should not have charged the mound. This has led to the opinion that the suspensions will remain the same following the appeals.

Through his first 46 games this season, Harper is again putting up MVP numbers in the National League. He has a 0.331 batting average, a league-leading 15 home runs, a league-leading 44 runs scored, 41 RBIs, and nine intentional walks already. It is very clear that opposing pitchers are nervous about facing Harper and that may have been one of the reasons that Strickland decided to throw at him in this game. Another reason is the two home runs Harper hit off Strickland in the 2014 MLB Playoffs.

Hunter Strickland had pitched in 21 games for the San Francisco Giants this season. Going 17 2/3 innings so far, he has a 1.53 ERA, a 1.358 WHIP, and a 1-1 record as a reliever. He has been a steady reliever out of the bullpen for the Giants over the past three MLB seasons but hasn’t done well in high-leverage situations, keeping him from becoming the closer for the team. The team will certainly miss the depth that he provides when he fulfills this six-game suspension.

When the suspensions are carried out, the two players will not be paid for the games that they miss. Strickland makes a salary of $555,000 for the 2017 MLB season, while Harper is under contract for roughly $13.7 million. Harper gets a big raise to about $21.7 million next year, while Strickland will head into arbitration to try to get a raise from the Giants. Missing a week worth of games might hurt his overall numbers though.

It’s possible that this Giants vs. Nationals brawl could lead to something else taking place in the series between the teams. In most instances where the star player of one team is intentionally hit, the other team will target the star player of the pitcher’s team. In this case, that would be catcher Buster Posey, but it has been noted that he did his best to stay out of the brawl that took place on Monday. Maybe that will spare him the potential injury.

The situation is likely to drag on for a while as the two players appeal their suspensions and it is unclear when Major League Baseball will give a final judgment on the situation. For now, Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland remain on the active rosters for their teams, possibly during a contentious second game of the series on Tuesday (May 30).

[Featured Image by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]

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