Last night I wrote about how Acuna’s historic hot streak has put him right back into the National League Rookie of the Year discussion, you can read that here:
Ronald Acuna Jr. hit leadoff homers in his three previous games, as well as eight homers in his last eight games. Last night, on the first pitch of the game Jose Urena plunked Acuna with a 97.5 MPH fastball:
Jose Urena was ejected after Braves manager Brian Snitker threw a fit and was then ejected himself. The Braves had a lot to say about Urena, as they all strongly believed he drilled Acuna intentionally. Urena said “I made the bad pitch, I missed my spot inside on the corner the way I wanted to start with him. I tried to get inside to move him.” While that sounds typical of a guy who just plunked someone, Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto was set up low and in, and Urena is not exactly the most accurate thrower. He is currently tied for the National League lead in hit batsmen with 11. Joe Girardi on MLB Network also pointed out Urena’s desire to throw the ball on the right side of the plate, inside to righties. Here are his Hot Zones recorded by ESPN:
As you can see Urena likes to throw the ball in to righties, which has worked for him when he hits his spots up or down (righties are hitting .500 on him this season middle in). While Urena and his friends in the dugout will be the only people that really know what happened last night, there’s plenty of evidence that this could have just been a missed spot. The majority believe Urena hit Acuna intentionally, but the motivation just isn’t there.
Why would Urena hit a batter for doing well? You don’t see pitchers throwing at Mike Trout and J.D. Martinez for playing at an elite level. I can’t recall a time where a batter charged the mound because he couldn’t handle a Max Scherzer or Chris Sale slider. Throwing at a guy for being on a hot streak isn’t something that is currently in the game, so I find it odd that people keep jumping to that conclusion. Also, Urena is playing for a 48-75 Marlin team and has a 4.74 ERA this season. The last thing Urena wants to do is give the first place Atlanta Braves’ leadoff man a free base and a chance to increase his ERA and make him eligible for the loss. Urena is playing for himself this season as he should on a dumpster fire of a Marlins team. MLB contracts are dictated by stats, and he — like all other athletes — wants to get paid.
Aftermath: Acuna received a CT scan and X-Ray on his left elbow, both of which came back okay. He was listed as day-to-day and is in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Rockies. The MLB sided with Acuna and handed out a six-game suspension to Jose Urena, as well as an undisclosed fine.
Scott Neville – Head Baseball Writer – WTF Sports