Cardinals 6, Astros 3
This has been a spring with minimal roster intrigue for the Cardinals, though the most fascinating camp competition came to a conclusion on Sunday. After Joe Kelly pitched five innings in his final Grapefruit League start, manager Mike Matheny named him the team’s fifth starter. Carlos Martinez, as a result, will move into the bullpen, where he will begin the season as the team’s eighth-inning setup man.
You can read the full story — and all about the reasoning that went into it — here.
I’m not going to rehash all that in the blog, but I will say a few things to those of you (and yes, I’ve heard you on Twitter) enraged that Martinez is not getting an opportunity to start…
- The five pitchers who open the season in the starting rotation are rarely the five who finish the season there. Martinez may still start for the Cardinals this season. This does not change that. This also hasn’t changed how the organization views his long-term fit.
- Martinez, like Michael Wacha in 2013, is going to have his innings monitored. If you start him in April, there is no way to keep pitching him every fifth day through September/October. The Cardinals¬†will be saving some by pitching Martinez out of the ‘pen now. In doing so,¬†the club will then have the option of moving Martinez into a starting role at a later date and still having him available for the postseason.
- Does Martinez look ready to be in a rotation? Yes, he certainly looks ready for that chance. But it’s hard to ignore what Kelly did as a starter last year and the value that Martinez will have in the bullpen. They can both start, but I think Martinez will fit better in a set-up role than Kelly would have.
- And please don’t try to argue that the spring training stats show that Martinez was more deserving. Grapefruit League numbers are mostly meaningless, as pitchers use this time to build up arm strength/refine new pitches/etc. It’s not all about results. Kelly, for instance, has been trying to work on his curveball all spring — even if means throwing it in spots where he normally wouldn’t during the regular season.
With Sunday’s announcement, the Cardinals have set their rotation: Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Wacha and Kelly. They have not, however, announced the rotation order. That will probably come on Monday.
As for this week, Miller will pitch Monday, followed by Lynn, Wainwright and Wacha. That has Kelly lined up to start the team’s exhibition game in Memphis on Friday.
After the latest wave of roster cuts on Sunday, the Cardinals have 35 players remaining in Major League camp. To get to 25 before Opening Day, the Cardinals will place Jason Motte and Jaime Garcia on the disabled list, and send eight more people out. There appears to be only one roster spot up for grabs as things wind down and that is the seventh place in the bullpen. Jorge Rondon, Keith Butler or Scott McGregor will fill it.
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