New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman after scuffle with Tampa Bay Rays
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball is reportedly set to suspend New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman three games for his role in Tuesday’s benches-clearing incident against the Tampa Bay Rays.

During the ninth inning with two outs and a 5-3 lead, Chapman threw a 101-mph fastball that narrowly missed drilled Mike Brousseau’s head. Moments later, after Brousseau struck out to end the game, both benches then emptied onto the field.

Even after players and coaches were separated, the tensions between the two clubs carried over into the interviews after the game.

Aroldis Chapman suspended three games, Aaron Boone suspended for Rays’ finale

Chapman’s inside fastball came after an incident in the first inning on Tuesday. Masahiro Tanaka threw inside at Rays’ infielder Joey Wendle then drilled him in the side on the very next pitch. The Rays, who entered play having won seven of their eight meetings against the Yankees this season, took exception to Tanaka’s pitches.

After Chapman’s fastball narrowly missed Brousseau’s skull, Tampa Bay’s skipper Kevin Cash argued with the umpires and was then ejected. After the game, Cash essentially threatened to retaliate against the Yankees with his collection of pitchers that throw 98 mph.

While things didn’t get as ugly on Tuesday as we saw during the Houston Astros-Oakland Athletics scuffle., MLB is seemingly taking preventive action to avoid things escalating. According to The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler, Chapman will receive a three-game suspension for throwing at an opposing player’s head. Additionally, Cash and Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone will serve one-game suspensions on Wednesday night.

Boone’s suspension is likely tied to MLB’s determination that New York’s pitchers may have thrown at the Rays’ hitters intentionally. While Cash’s team didn’t take direct action, his hinted threat during a press conference warranted a suspension.

MLB is trying to avoid benches-clearing brawls and confrontations this season as a means of following social distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because things didn’t escalate further on Tuesday, all parties involved likely avoided lengthier suspensions.

The key moving forward for coaches and players will be avoiding physical confrontations with opponents and not inciting fights. Houston’s hitting coach Alex Cintron sparked the brawl in August received a historic suspension for a coach as a result. If frustrations boil over between the Rays and Yankees again, MLB will likely drop the hammer.