Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers doesn't think Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly was simply maintaining social distance when he mocked Carlos Correa during a game between the two teams on July 28.
In fact, McCullers believes Kelly was afraid of Correa.
"He started that issue with what he said after he struck Carlos out," McCullers said, per Jayson Stark of The Athletic. "You know, I'm not going to repeat it. But citing the 'oh, I didn't get close'—I mean, Joe was scared. Carlos isn't the right dude to mess with. So it is what it is. You know, I'm beyond it. He got his five games. And it is what it is."
Kelly threw at both Alex Bregman and Correa during the Dodgers' 5-2 win before taunting Correa. While the benches cleared, there was not a physical altercation.
Major League Baseball suspended Kelly for eight games but lessened it to five following an appeal.
McCullers also suggested throwing 97 mph fastballs near batters' heads is not the way to handle any lingering frustration between the two teams, noting that "isn't the way it's done. And if you are going to be the person that carries the big stick, if you are going to be the holier than thou, you better do it the right way."
The Astros pitcher also highlighted the irony of Kelly being so involved in the dustup since he was not a member of the 2017 Dodgers that lost to Houston in the World Series but was instead on the Boston Red Sox.
Boston, like Houston, was punished following an investigation for sign-stealing.
The Astros defeated the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series in seven games, but it was later discovered they were stealing signs. The 2018 Red Sox, who were managed by former Astros bench coach Alex Cora, also defeated the Dodgers in the Fall Classic.
Cora was suspended for the 2020 campaign for his role in Houston's sign-stealing scandal and eventually let go by the Red Sox.