As I noted in my Wild Card preview, the Cubs bullpen is taxed, thanks in part to both Brandon Morrow and Pedro Strop being injured. I don’t know if Strop is still injured or not, but he’ll be in uniform tonight. The Cubs just activated him for the Wild Card game.
Strop, who took over as the closer from the injured Morrow midseason, went down with a hamstring injury while running the bases against the Nationals in a mid-September game, sending him to the disabled list. He’s been saying all along that he thinks he can make it back for the playoffs, but until today the Cubs said nothing definitive on the matter. Now they have.
Strop is 6-1 with a 2.26 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 57/21 in 59.2 innings on the year. Getting him back for tonight’s one-and-done game is a big deal.
Earlier today the Major League Baseball Umpire’s Association made multiple posts on social media registering its displeasure at what it feels was the league’s weak discipline of Manny Machado following his run-in with umpire Bill Welke. It was an unusual statement, as it’s not common for umpires, individual or via their union to comment on such matters.
This evening, in an official statement, the league called it inappropriate:
“Manny Machado was suspended by MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre, who considered all the facts and circumstances of Machado’s conduct, including precedent, in determining the appropriate level of discipline. Mr. Machado is appealing his suspension and we do not believe it is appropriate for the union representing Major League Umpires to comment on the discipline of players represented by the Players Association, just as it would not be appropriate for the Players Association to comment on disciplinary decisions made with respect to umpires. We also believe it is inappropriate to compare this incident to the extraordinarily serious issue of workplace violence.”
That final bit, about workplace violence, is something that I didn’t really consider when I read the umps’ statements, but it’s a damn good point. In an age where people are literally shooting up workplaces, umpires making reference to that kind of thing in response to a player throwing a bat is pretty rich indeed. And in pretty poor taste.