Cardinals 8, Astros 8

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

With a 2-plus hour drive looming, I’m going to keep the blog somewhat short this evening. For more on Joe Kelly’s start and the evolving dynamic of the rotation competition, check out this feature story on cardinals.com. Kelly had some command troubles today, but nothing that screams concern being that this was his first start.

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One thing that I expect people will run with from that feature story is the declaration that pitching coach Derek Lilliquist made today regarding the upcoming pitching schedule. Lilliquist was asked if Kelly would make another spring start; his answer: “Right now, he will get another start.” Lilliquist then confirmed that Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal will continue to pitch in relief (even though both will be stretched out in terms of pitch counts/innings).

Does this indicate that the Cardinals have Kelly penciled in as the likely winner in the battle for the final rotation spot? Perhaps. But that’s also dangerous speculation at this point. That said, based on 2012, yes, Kelly has proven more than the other two at the Major League level. He made 16 starts (compared to one by Miller and none by Rosenthal) and was very good in most of them. The Cardinals’ decision this spring will take that into account.

However, there are still four weeks of Grapefruit League games  left for Miller and/or Rosenthal to shine. And anything can happen.

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The Cardinals’ offense continues to give opposing pitchers fits. With the eight runs scored today, the club has tallied 53 in its last five games. Adron Chambers blasted a three-run homer and made a really nice defensive play in left field. He’s eyeing the same bench spot as Shane Robinson, who, after a 1-for-4 day on Friday, has eight hits in his first 15 spring at-bats.

Pete Kozma drove in two and somehow avoided a slew of Astros pitchers and the bullpen mound in order to make a tough catch in foul territory. The Cardinals had him play both shortstop and third base on Friday. Expect that to continue, as Kozma would be needed as a utility infielder if he can push his way onto the roster.

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It wasn’t all pretty from the bullpen, which gave up eight runs in six innings.

  • Victor Marte blew a save by allowing two ninth-inning runs. The last scored on a wild pitch. He gave up a home run, but also wasn’t helped by Ryan Jackson’s error.
  • Marc Rzepczynski had an effectively sinking sinker — only it wasn’t staying over the plate with much regularity. That was the primary reason behind the two walks he issued.
  • Jason Motte left a pitch up and over the plate that Chris Carter crushed for a two-run homer. On the positive side, though, Motte also threw some good-looking change-ups. That’s a pitch he is hoping to mix into his repertoire this season.

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Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller highlight the list of pitchers scheduled to face the Nationals on Saturday. The game will be played in Jupiter. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. CT.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

1 Comment

You should also mention Robinson’s great defensive play in the same inning as Chambers.

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