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NL Notes: Harper, Strickland shelved following bitter brawl

Here’s what’s happening around the National League.

Jim Bunning, former U.S. Senator and pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, pictured here in 1971.

Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland went fist-to-fist this past Monday, and now that the bad blood has (somewhat) cleared, punishments were promptly assigned by MLB.

Harper was suspended three games for charging the mound on Hunter Strickland in Memorial Day’s contest with the Giants. Strickland, who threw inside on Harper one too many times, got a six-game ban. Clearly, the pitcher Strickland’s absence proved to be far less costly (Strickland only ended up missing one scheduled start, while the Nats lost 27 innings of production from their best hitter as a result of the fight.

Is the fight good for baseball? Boy, we can talk all day about that. But it created a much-needed debate: our pitchers need more protection.

Here’s what else is happening around the National League:

Is it time to panic in Wrigleyville? The Cubs are off to what can only be described as a shockingly slow start in their quest to repeat as champions. The offense is treading to say the least, with guys like Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell underperforming at the dish. On the mound, the Cubbies just haven’t seen the overall consistency of quality starts that they enjoyed in 2016. Now, is the panic really warranted, with Chicago just 2.5 games out of first in the putrid NL Central. We can assume that the North Siders will take control eventually, but for now, things remain interesting in what was supposed to be a runaway division for Chicago.

The incredible story of Colorado’s Chad Bettis continues to amaze us all. Faced with spreading testicular cancer, Bettis is now well enough to return to the mound, and will begin rehab assignments. It shouldn’t be long before Bettis is back in the rotation, and the Rockies will enjoy having him back, as they’ve contended largely with rookie starters for the better part of the season.

The Brewers put a “26” on the scorecard on Friday night against the Dodgers, but I don’t think they’re exactly proud of it. The Brew Crew struck out 26 times in their loss to the Dodgers, and the more detailed statistics aren’t pretty. Peep the linked article to see just how bad it got for Milwaukee last night (HINT: in every inning but one, the Brewers struck out twice!)

The great Jim Bunning died last Sunday at the age of 85. Known for both his baseball and political careers, Bunning is best known for his 1964 perfect game as a member of the Phillies. Bunning maintained an All-Star status throughout a career that spanned from 1955 to 1971, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996. From 1999 to 2011, Bunning was a senator from Kentucky. Talk about a life well-lived. Rest in peace, Jim.