Astros Dusty Baker option
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Astros exercise 2021 club option for manager Dusty Baker

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Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston reports that the Astros have picked up the 2021 club option for manager Dusty Baker. MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart adds that the 2021 options for third base coach Gary Pettis and pitching coach Brent Strom have also been picked up.

Baker, 71, was hired by the Astros in late January, replacing A.J. Hinch. Hinch was suspended by Major League Baseball for one year and subsequently fired by the Astros for his role in the club’s cheating scheme in 2017.

With managing experience spanning parts of 23 seasons with now five teams — the Giants, Cubs, Reds, Nationals, and Astros — from 1993-2020, Baker has a career record well above .500 at 1,866-1,637. Somehow, he has never won a World Series and has only won one pennant with the Giants in 2002. If the 2020 regular season and subsequent postseason can actually be played despite the pandemic, the Astros may give Baker his best shot to win it all.

Baker’s Astros are off to a 3-1 start to the 2020 season. They were expected to be the top contender in the American League along with the Yankees and Twins. Baker will have to lead the Astros to the promised land without ace Justin Verlander, who is sidelined for a bit due to a forearm strain.

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.