3:10pm: The league actually did not further inspect Santiago’s glove, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reports (Twitter link). The ejection and suspension are based solely on the umpire’s discretion. That’s a rather surprising development and one that, speculatively speaking, could prompt some union pushback.
2:20pm: Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that Mariners lefty Hector Santiago has been suspended 10 games and been fined an undisclosed amount for possessing a foreign substance on his glove in the fifth inning of Sunday’s game against the White Sox. Santiago is appealing the decision.
Mariners manager Scott Servais said after the game that umpire Phil Cuzzi was mistaken and that there was no illegal substance on Santiago’s glove — only rosin (which is permissible under MLB rules) and sweat. The league, after conducting an analysis of Santiago’s glove, clearly does not agree and has elected to punish the veteran lefty. Santiago’s suspension will be held in abeyance until the appeal process is complete. As ESPN’s Jeff Passan tweets, Santiago’s case will now be heard by an arbiter who works for Major League Baseball, which all but eliminates the possibility of the suspension being overturned. It could potentially be reduced, Passan suggests.
The 33-year-old Santiago has been quite effective with the Mariners thus far in 2021 after not pitching in the big leagues last season. He’s worked to a 2.65 ERA with a 23-to-7 K/BB ratio in 17 innings of work. This year’s 32.4 percent strikeout rate is easily a career-high, which will raise some eyebrows in light of the suspension, but it should be noted that Santiago hasn’t seen any appreciable uptick in spin rate this year. The spin on his four-seam fastball, in fact, has dropped from its previous levels, while the spin on his slider is right in line with his career marks.
Under the league’s new enforcement policy for foreign substances, the Mariners won’t be able to replace Santiago on the roster if his suspension is indeed upheld. They’ll have to play a man down while he serves his punishment.