Major League Baseball did not waste any time in issuing punishment for Joe Kelly’s actions Tuesday night against the Houston Astros. And the discipline wasn’t light.
The league announced Kelly was given an eight-game suspension — the equivalent of 22 games in a standard 162-game season — a couple of hours before the clubs took the field to conclude their two-game set at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday.
Kelly chose to appeal the suspension and will be available out of the bullpen Wednesday.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was also suspended one game. He will serve the sentence Wednesday. Bench coach Bob Geren will serve as the Dodgers’ manager.
Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined. He was the only member of the Astros disciplined.
The league outlined Kelly was suspended for throwing a pitch “in the area of the head of Alex Bregman and later taunted Carlos Correa, which led to the benches clearing.”
"I threw my curveball,” Kelly said of the pitch that angered Correa. "I guess they didn’t take too kind to it. A curveball. It is what it is."
MLB noted Kelly “has previously been suspended in his career for intentional throwing,” seemingly prompting the league to hand a harsher penalty than usual.
😂😂😂 8 games! What a joke.. @mlb is so soft anymore it’s kinda embarrassing.. people should just keep cheating because apparently there is 0 game suspensions for that 😂— Jered Weaver (@Weave1036) July 29, 2020
Makes zero sense Ken. He wasn’t even thrown out of the game. MLB siding with/protecting a team that openly and knowingly cheated their way to a World Series. He doesn’t deserve to be suspended at all. Hoping he wins his appeal. Looking forward to seeing you back out there JK! pic.twitter.com/Lekx8NHLRp— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) July 29, 2020
Joe Kelly earned every bit of that 8-game suspension. The ball was too close to Bregman’s head. Kelly wasn’t even on the 2017 Dodgers.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 29, 2020
Kelly served a six-game suspension as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2018 when he plunked Tyler Austin, then with the New York Yankees, as retaliation for Austin spiking a teammate. Austin charged the mound and a brawl ensued. Kelly spent the suspension watching games from different locations in the stands at Fenway Park and Rogers Centre in Toronto.
Before his suspension was announced, Roberts said he didn’t expect the Astros to retaliate. If they did, he said, he was sure the umpires would "address it and act accordingly.” The umpires, however, didn’t issue any discipline Tuesday.
Roberts said he planned on speaking to his team about leaving the bench at a time when the league is actively discouraging close contact between players to reduce the chances of the coronavirus spreading.
"I think that Major League Baseball is really serious about this, as well they should be,” Roberts said. "So I've got to reiterate how important it is for guys at any cost to stay on the bench.