Mike Fiers
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Mike Fiers dealing with right arm nerve irritation

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It was a rollercoaster of a game for Athletics starter Mike Fiers on Saturday. The right-hander sported an eye-catching “cat tail” beard that set social media ablaze when he stepped on the mound; by the second inning, however, he had something much more pressing to deal with: a worrisome case of right arm nerve irritation.

According to Fiers, he began to feel numbness in his right hand after throwing to Rougned Odor in the second — just three pitches before Odor launched a two-run, 436-foot home run to put the Rangers on the board. While Fiers later told reporters the sensation felt familiar and was mostly a mental issue, the A’s weren’t about to take any chances with their ace. They left him in to face Delino DeShields, who promptly drew a five-pitch walk, then removed him for Paul Blackburn.

Through Saturday’s outing, Fiers has spun a 14-4 record in 31 starts with a 4.09 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, 6.1 SO/9, and 1.3 fWAR through 171 2/3 innings in 2019. It doesn’t seem like he’ll miss more than one turn in the rotation, though Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle points out that “nerve irritation” comprises a spectrum of minor and major injuries and accompanying treatments, from Brett Anderson‘s two-week stint on the injured list to Andrew Triggs‘ season-ending surgery. Where Fiers falls in that spectrum is still undetermined.

Until they have a clear idea of their starter’s recovery timetable, the A’s will turn to the other five hurlers in their six-man rotation as they keep moving toward an AL wild card spot. As for the right-hander, well, he’s playing it safe:

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.