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Report: Chris Sale could be punished for throwing behind Manny Machado

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Update (4:57 PM ET): Rosenthal says he made a leap suggesting that Sale would “likely” be punished.

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On Tuesday, drama between the Orioles and Red Sox continued. For those that aren’t up to speed on the situation: On April 21 in Baltimore, Manny Machado slid hard into second base trying to break up a double play attempt. In doing so, he slid into Dustin Pedroia, injuring him. Two days later, reliever Matt Barnes threw a fastball at Machado’s head. He was ejected immediately and was handed a four-game suspension shortly thereafter. The two clubs opened up another series with each other on Monday and there was mostly no drama. Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy did hit Mookie Betts with a pitch, but it appeared to be unintentional. On Tuesday, in the first inning, Sox starter Chris Sale threw a fastball behind Machado, clearly intending to hit him. Both teams were given warnings. After the game, Machado expressed his displeasure with Sale and the Red Sox as an organization.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said that Sale will likely be punished for his actions. Torre was on a conference call with commissioner Rob Manfred as well as the managers and general managers of both teams.

Torre said, “Players deserve to be on the field. We appreciate your passion but we certainly need to have the focus on playing games instead of trying to get even, if somebody thinks they need to get even.”

Torre’s full comments can be found in Rosenthal’s article.

Sale should be suspended. If he is, it should be long enough to serve as an actual detriment. If the punishment is, for example, a five-game suspension, the Red Sox can just shuffle their rotation around a bit and it will be as if Sale didn’t miss any time at all. If players are losing half the season for failing a drug test, they should lose as much time for endangering their peers.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.