St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly didn’t just shine from the mound as the Cards won 6-2 against the Atlanta Braves. Kelly also had 3 hits in the contest, showing that he could be used in a pinch-hitting situation this season if it meant saving a bench player for late in the contest–assuming he is a starter and not the long reliever.
Kelly used only 73 pitches to get 16 outs as he pitched 5 1/3 innings on Saturday. His three hits drove in two runs and he helped himself with two of them himself. In all, Kelly accounted for four of the six runs in one way or another.
This was the third spring start for Kelly, who is competing with Dominican native Carlos Martinez, as he battles for a spot in the Cardinals rotation goes.
“I would think whoever it is that ends up being in the ‘pen is going to get a real good look at a late-inning opportunity,” manager Mike Matheny said about the rotation battle. “But also have that versatility to throw multiple innings. … Either of these guys — they’ve earned the right to be able to pitch big innings. They earned the right to continue to fight for a starting job.”
Matheny also confirmed that there will be two outfielders carried on the Cardinals bench in addition to expected starters Matt Holliday, Peter Bourjos, and Allen Craig. Jon Jay is expected to take one of the spots. The other one likely means Shane Robinson will be on the Cardinals bench come Opening Day. However, Stephen Piscotty and Oscar Taveras will force the Cardinals’ hand later this season. Matheny has also said that two infielders and a backup catcher will also be carried on the bench. So who does the final bench spot go to? Daniel Descalso or Pete Kozma?