Major League Baseball today announced an eight-game suspension for Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly, ESPN reported. The punishment comes the day after the 32-year-old reliever helped spark a bench-clearing confrontation between his club and the Houston Astros by throwing erratically at batters.
In the sixth inning of a contest that the Dodgers would go on to win 5-2, Kelly threw a pitch behind Alex Bregman while also throwing high and inside to both Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa. Following Correa's strikeout, Kelly stuck his tongue out at the shortstop and allegedly taunted him with a curse word. This caused Correa to begin to approach the reliever on the mound, leading to both dugouts clearing.
Although no punches were thrown, the league still took swift action.
In addition to Kelly's eight-game suspension, which adds up to more than 13 percent of the season in the adjusted 60-game format, the MLB also suspended his team's manager, Dave Roberts, while issuing a fine to Astros manager Dusty Baker.
Kelly, who was also suspended for six games in 2018 for a similar infraction, denied any wrongdoing on his part, saying "my accuracy isn't the best."
Houston pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. wasn't buying that explanation, however.
"Not only did he take it upon himself to send a message, but he wasn't even part of the team during that  season. We knew coming into the game that he likes to go off script. It is what it is."The right-hander also criticized Kelly for taunting Correa, calling it unprofessional. He said his club was there to play baseball and win, and nothing else. But while it is true Kelly was not a member of the Dodgers during the 2017 campaign in which the Astros were accused of stealing pitching signs, he was on the Boston Red Sox roster that year. Houston defeated Boston in the American League Divisional Series before going on to win the World Series over Los Angeles.
New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman came to Kelly's defense on Twitter. He pointed out that the reliever wasn't even tossed out of the game and that the MLB is siding with "a team that openly and knowingly cheated their way to a World Series."
After saying he didn't deserve to be suspended in the first place, Stroman said he hopes his fellow hurler wins his appeal.
"Looking forward to seeing you back out there JK," he said.
Under his current suspension, Kelly will be eligible to return to action on August 7 when Los Angeles begins a three-game showdown with the San Francisco Giants. As The Inquisitr previously reported, MLB has no plans to pause or cancel the season even in light of rising coronavirus cases.