MLB came hard on Joe Kelly for his lack of control.
It suspended the Dodgers righthander on Wednesday for eight games after throwing a fastball behind Astros third baseman Alex Bregman’s head and causing an eviction of the banks by dragging Astros short stop Carlos Correa.
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MLB also suspended Dodgers manager Dave Roberts for one game due to the intentional pitch.
Kelly will appeal the suspension, meaning he will be available from LA’s bullpen for the Dodgers game in Houston on Wednesday night. Roberts cannot object to his ban and will therefore sit out on Wednesday’s game.
The commissioner’s office was placed in this position last winter by the way it handled its investigation of the Astros stealing signs in 2017, the year they defeated the Dodgers in the World Series. Commissioner Rob Manfred gave Bregman, Correa and all other active players on that team immunity in exchange for full disclosure of prohibited activities. AJ Hinch, Carlos Beltran and Alex Cora lost management positions in the aftermath.
It was believed that revelations of the Astros’ deception would cause opponents to throw hitters in retaliation. In the spring there was great expectation that Bregman, Correa and Jose Altuve would wear a lot of fastballs this year. The Dodgers, who believe the Astros stole their title three years ago, got their chance because of MLB’s COVID-19 schedule renewal; the teams were not originally scheduled to meet this year.
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MLB’s actions last winter also angered a large number of fans, which is why they both loved Kelly’s actions Tuesday (he said after the game that his 3-0 pitch behind Bregman and his curve ball at Correa’s head were not intentional) and hated the decision of MLB vice president Chris Young, a former big league pitcher, to suspend Kelly.
Kelly was not in the Dodgers in 2017, but he was a member of the Red Sox team that lost to the Astros in the ALDS that year.
It should be noted that MLB also considered Kelly’s history of throwing at hitters and inciting fights to hand out the suspension. He drilled the Yankees’ Tyler Austin with a retaliatory pitch in 2018, prompting Austin to charge the mound and start a fight.
Another possible reason MLB treated Kelly hard: Players got too close when the banks cleared on Tuesday and violated MLB’s COVID-19 security protocols. Only Kelly and Roberts were suspended, but MLB wants to minimize such incidents.
Astros manager Dusty Baker said after Tuesday’s game that Kelly’s field against Bregman was “dirty baseball” and that throwing at players’ heads is not a factor in the sport.