Stephen Strasburg nerve irritation
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Stephen Strasburg scratched from Thursday’s start due to nerve irritation

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Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post reports that Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg will not start on Thursday due to ongoing nerve irritation in his right hand. It’s the second scheduled start of the 2020 regular season that Strasburg has missed. Erick Fedde will start in Strasburg’s place against the Blue Jays.

Strasburg, 32, re-signed with the Nationals on a seven-year, $245 million contract in December. Understandably, the Nationals are being cautious with the prized right-hander.

Last season, Strasburg went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA, 251 strikeouts, and 56 walks over 209 innings, helping pitch the Nationals into the postseason. In the playoffs, Strasburg held the opposition to eight earned runs while striking out 47 and walking four in 36 1/3 innings. He earned World Series honors after the Nationals toppled the Astros to win the first championship in franchise history.

The Nationals are 1-4 to begin the season. They did get some good news on Wednesday: Juan Soto, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, has tested negative on back-to-back tests. He is awaiting clearance from Major League Baseball as well as the city’s health department. Soto could return to the team in the coming days, bolstering a lineup that has missed him.

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.