As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Cole Hamels has admitted to intentionally hitting Bryce Harper with a pitch. This resulted in Cole Hamels being suspended for 5 games. Now, often a five game suspension results in a pitcher missing at least one start, but given the Philadelphia Phillies schedule, Cole Hamels can actually take his five days off now and not miss a single day.
Cole Hamels last pitched on May 6th, and likely wouldn’t have pitched until Saturday. With an off day on Thursday, the Phillies can choose to simply let everybody go on their regular schedule, allowing Cole Hamels to “miss” five games and pitch on his regular turn in the rotation.
In the past I’ve argued that intentionally hitting someone with a baseball is the wrong approach. There’s something to be said for protecting your teammates, and that’s an important part of the game. But hitting someone with a 90+ MPH object that could hit someone in the head is extremely dangerous, and it’s one of the reasons that I don’t support pitchers intentionally aiming at batters.
The most effective way to send a message is to throw behind the hitter. Everybody knows that it’s intentional, and the message gets sent across. The only difference is that you don’t put someone’s life in danger, as Harper could have been severely injured if Cole Hamels had missed with his pitch.
A 5 game suspension might have been appropriate if there was even a question that Cole Hamels didn’t intend to hit Harper. But because we know that Cole Hamels purposely tried to hit him, the suspension should at least be doubled so that the Phillies can’t creatively juggle their rotation and prevent him from effectively missing any time. The Phillies shouldn’t effectively be rewarded with an extra roster spot because Cole Hamels intentionally threw a baseball at Bryce Harper.