Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cardinals' Joe Kelly headed to DL. Who will take his place?

Joe Kelly injured his hamstring today trying to beat out a bunt, leaving the Cardinals with a hole in their starting rotation.  Who are the candidates to replace Kelly?  Let's take a look.

Carlos Martinez

Martinez, who lost out to Kelly for the 5th starter job, would be the obvious choice to replace him in the starting rotation.  However, there are some factors working against him.

First, the Cardinals may think they are better off leaving him in the bullpen, where he has enjoyed success (1.86 ERA) in a setup role.

In addition, if the Cards take him out of the setup role, who would they use to replace him?  Jason Motte is not ready yet.  Perhaps the team could bring up veteran David Aardsma from AAA Memphis, but, coming off a season in which he posted a 4.31 ERA, can he be relied upon as the setup guy?

Finally, Martinez may need time to stretch out, after spending the first two-plus weeks of the season as a reliever.  While he has gone more than one inning in 5 of his 7 appearances, he has not pitched more than 2 innings in any game.

Tyler Lyons

If the Cardinals decide to keep Martinez in the pen, Lyons would be the most logical choice. 

For one thing, he has pitched well so far this season, going 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA in 3 starts.

Second, he is on the 40-man roster, so it would not required the Cardinals DFA's any of their current 40-man guys.

Finally, he pitched today at Memphis, so he would be in line to make Kelly's next start.

Boone Whiting/Tim Cooney

Both Whiting and Cooney could be dark horses to fill in for Kelly.

Both are off to good starts at AAA Memphis:  Whiting is 0-1, but with a 1.98 ERA, while Cooney is 3-0 with a 2.04 ERA. 

If the Cardinals are not ready to give Lyons another try as a starter, especially after he posted a 5.56 ERA last season in 8 starts and they do not want to move Martinez from the pen, then Whiting or Cooney could get the call.

Whiting has more high level experience, having made 21 starts at AAA last season, while this is Cooney's first season at AAA.  However, Cooney has arguably more upside than Whiting.

In either case, neither of them is on the 40-man roster, so the Cardinals would have to make room for them, which makes it less likely that it will happen.


The Cardinals will likely give Lyons the first shot to replace Kelly.  This will allow the team to keep Martinez in the pen and keep his innings down.  However, depending on how long Kelly is out (and how Lyons fares), the team could be forced to use Martinez.

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