As I suspected, the Cardinals announced today that Joe Kelly has "won" the 5th starter job and the Carlos Martinez will be the 8th inning guy in the bullpen. This despite Martinez' sparkling 1.76 ERA this spring compared to Kelly's 6.28.
Makes you wonder why they went through all this pretense of a spring competition in the first place. What kind of message does this send to Martinez?
Don't get me wrong, I don't think its a bad decision on the Cardinals part, I just don't get the rationale for having a competition for the 5th starter job when they already knew who the 5th starter was going to be.
Martinez took well to the 8th inning role last season, while Kelly had an excellent second half as a starter, which should carry more weight than what they do in 15-20 spring innings.
Making Kelly the 5th starter and Martinez makes sense, for now.
However, I do not want to see the Cardinals pigeonhole Martinez into a bullpen role, like they have done with Trevor Rosenthal.
The best case scenario is for the Cards to use Martinez in the 8th inning role for the first month or two until Jason Motte proves healthy enough to take over. Then send Martinez back to the minors to stretch him out as a starter again.
Once he is stretched out, he can take over for any under-performing pitchers in the second half of the season (read "Lance Lynn") and perhaps pull a Michael Wacha down the stretch and in the playoffs.
So, for now at least, the decision makes sense. We just could have done without the dog and pony show.