Major League Baseball announced Thursday that Astros right-hander Mike Fiers has been suspended for five games and fined an undisclosed amount after throwing behind Luis Valbuena’s head during last night’s game against the Angels (video link). Fiers is not appealing his suspension, which will take effect tonight. After starting last night’s game, Fiers wouldn’t have been able to throw for the next three to four days anyhow, so the suspension will likely only cost him one appearance (be it a relief outing or an additional start in McCullers’ place).
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Fiers made a spot start in place of Lance McCullers, who was dealing with arm fatigue, and was ambushed early by the Halos, who put up eight runs in the first two innings. Valbuena hit a two-run homer to cap off a five-run first inning and, as he’s done throughout his career, celebrated with a rather emphatic bat flip. Fiers, apparently, took exception to his former teammate’s display and let a 90 mph pitch sail behind Valbuena’s head in his next at-bat. Fiers wasn’t ejected — though the home plate umpire warned both benches — and Valbuena ultimately responded by ripping the next pitch into the right-field corner for a double.
Fiers explained to reporters that he has no hard feelings toward his former teammate and didn’t intend to hit him but rather to send a message after he felt he was disrespected (link via Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle).
The 32-year-old Fiers has pitched to a 5.22 ERA with 8.6 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9 through 153 innings in 2017 while earning a $3.45MM salary after avoiding arbitration last offseason. He’ll be arbitration-eligible again this winter and is controllable through the 2019 campaign.