Mar 7, 2013; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcherJoe Kelly
(58) looks on in the game against the New York Yankees at Roger Dean Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Yankees 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Will it be scorching Shelby Miller or “Machine Gun” Joe Kelly who lands the gig as the Cardinals fifth starter? Both are solid options, however both have drawbacks. If and when other St. Louis starters have troubles (performance/injury), either Miller or Kelly will get called up from Memphis, unless perchance Michael Wacha overshadows them.
The case for Joe Kelly is a John Mozeliak move. If Kelly comes up and has a notable first half, then ball clubs will be interested in him if they are eyeing fresh starters with experience and quality stuff. Perhaps the Indians will need Kelly’s arm and decide to part with Asdrubal Cabrera (rise of Juan Diaz or Mike Aviles?). Assuming that Pete Kozma isn’t an All-Star, Mozeliak would jump to deal what he has an abundance of (arms) for something he lacks (middle infield). The conditions around Miller starting in Memphis would be perfect. Although he was drafted in 2009, the same year as Kelly, Miller is two years younger, and has a higher maximum to protect. A bit more time in AAA won’t wound anyone.
The issue that must be looming over Mozeliak’s office is how St. Louis will benefit from having an additional sinkerball pitcher in the rotation. The middle infield has gaping potential flaws plus corner infielders can be inconsistent (Freese and Craig=22 errors in 2012), more grounders and choppers could be even more blunders (107) than 2012. for the Birds. With Jake Westbrook throwing hard sinkers, Kelly’s additional drooping rocks would only add to the amount of work the infield does during the average game, which could be bad news like the bears.
Giving the last starting spot to Joe Kelly and guiding Miller back to Memphis appears to be the inevitable decision given past performances and this spring’s indicators. Maybe today’s shutout by Miller combined with Kelly’s four earned runs versus Miami will start to modify that. There are still a couple more weeks of play baseball for fluctuation. The Cards General Manager could take an uncharacteristically unnecessary, but potentially brilliant risk and pick the younger and less experienced Shelby Miller and send Joe Kelly to AAA. Weirder things have happened, the Billikens have Final Four Dreams. It may depend on the confidence that the coaches and John Mozeliak have in the infield. No booted balls in the dirt today!