Monday, March 11, 2013
Kelly vs. Miller for Cards final rotation spot
By Jason A. Churchill
Four of the five spots in the St. Louis Cardinals rotation were set before spring training began, barring injuries. Veterans Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook will be joined by Lance Lynn. The final job, however, is anything but settled.
When camp opened there were as many as five vying for the spot, but the club made a decision last week that Trevor Rosenthal will be used out of the bullpen, and two of the remaining four -- right-handers Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez -- likely need more time in the minors.
That leaves righties Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly. Both performed well late last season and into the playoffs as relievers, and both have promising futures. Miller is considered the club's top pitching prospect -- he ranks No. 21 overall on Keith Law's Top 100 Prospects list. Miller, though, may be the one more likely to need another few months of seasoning, suggesting Kelly could be the early favorite, which is what Joe Strauss reported earlier this week citing "informed speculation."
For what it's worth, Miller looked impressive in holding down a nearly-full Nationals lineup while making his first start (second appearance) of the spring Friday, per the Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold. Once Miller is ready, Kelly either heads to the bullpen -- joining Jason Motte, Rosenthal and Mitchell Boggs to form an absurdly dominating quartet of right-handed power relievers -- or the club can consider trading Westbrook, the weakest link among the incumbents.
One thing's clear: Even with Chris Carpenter out for the year, the Cards still have a full deck of arms -- and then some.