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#pounditWednesday, September 30, 2020

Marcus Stroman, Mike Clevinger not happy with Joe Kelly suspension

Mike Clevinger

Joe Kelly’s suspension for throwing at Houston Astros players has once again sparked a debate over whether the punishment fit the crime.

MLB was widely criticized for not suspending any Astros players for their roles in the team’s 2017 sign-stealing scandal, with many feeling that the players who both created and benefited from the program completely got away with it while manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow took the fall for them.

Those feelings once again came to the forefront Wednesday, when MLB suspended Kelly for eight games for throwing near the heads of both Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa. As was noted by many, Kelly received a harsher punishment for throwing at Astros players than any Houston player did for stealing signs.

Leading the charge was Cleveland Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger, who vented his anger over the lack of punishment for Houston’s players in response to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman remarking that Kelly “earned” his suspension.

New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman retweeted several of Clevinger’s tweets and then took it a step further, saying that Kelly didn’t deserve to be suspended at all.

It’s bizarre for Stroman to say that this makes zero sense. MLB ruled that Kelly threw at two players and came dangerously close to their heads. It does not matter what the justification is — that’s both illegal and dangerous, and if MLB thinks Kelly threw those pitches on purpose, he absolutely deserves to be suspended. That, not taunting, is the primary reason he got such a lengthy ban. MLB isn’t protecting Bregman and Correa because they play for the Astros — they’re doing it because being thrown at is dangerous to any hitter.

It’s also worth a reminder that, by most accounts, any attempts by MLB to suspend Astros players for their role in the cheating scandal likely would have ended in failure. There’s a strong argument that the league should have done much more to punish Houston’s players for what they did, but the fact that MLB fell short doesn’t mean pitchers shouldn’t face consequences if they target Astros hitters.

The Astros’ cheating story had somewhat fallen out of the headlines due to the delayed season. At the very least, this serves as proof that players haven’t forgotten and are still furious with both the Astros and with MLB for letting them off the hook.

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