Friday, August 30, 2013

Who will get the call to start for the Cardinals on Tuesday?

The Cardinals starting rotation is in a state of flux right now.  As of today we know that Shelby Miller will pitch tonight against the Pirates and that Lance Lynn will pitch tomorrow.  However, beyond that the starters are listed as TBD.

For Sunday, Joe Kelly would normally be the starter, as it would be his turn on normal rest.  However, after his abbreviated outing on Wednesday, when he lasted on 2 innings against the Reds, the Cardinals could decide to bring back Adam Wainwright on short rest to face the Pirates. 

That will likely be determined by how the Cards fare in their first two games against the Buccos.  Lose both of them and Mike Matheny may want to use Wainwright to salvage the final game.  Split the two games or win them both and Matheny may just stick with Kelly.

In either case, we know that Kelly and Wainwright will pitch on Sunday and Monday, we just don't know the order yet.

Which brings us to Tuesday. 

Tyler Lyons made the last start when the Cardinals needed a 5th starter, but recent moves indicate that the team might want to go in another direction.  For one thing, Carlos Martinez was sent to AAA Memphis to stretch out again as a starter, after pitching two innings in relief of Lyons on Monday.  Martinez pitched last night and pitched brilliantly, striking out 9 in 7 innings of one-run ball.  If he follows his normal 4 days of rest, he should be ready to start again on Tuesday.

In addition, the Cardinals optioned Michael Wacha to the minors yesterday, after he pitched 4 innings in relief of Wainwright on Wednesday.  But, instead of optioning him to AAA Memphis, the Cardinals sent him to AA Springfield.  As Springfield's season ends Monday, Wacha is eligible to return on Tuesday (Memphis' season ends on Tuesday, so Wacha would not have been able to return until Wednesday, if he was sent there). 

Thus, it appears that the Cardinals are purposely keeping all of their options open when it comes to Tuesday's starter and, at this point, its anybody's guess who that will be.

Cardinals acquire John Axford for PTBNL

Well, so much for standing pat.

The Cardinals made a move today to try to help their warn out bullpen, acquiring former Brewers closer John Axford for the now infamous player to be named later.

Axford had a breakout year in 2011, racking up 46 saves while posting a 1.95 ERA.  However, he has fallen on hard time the last couple years posting an ERA of 4.67 in 2012 and an ERA of 4.45 so far this year.

The main problem is that, for whatever reason, he has become much more hittable, as his H/9 has jumped from 7.2 in 2011 to 7.9 in 2012 and a whopping 10.2 this year.  Compounding that is that his HR/9 has tripled from 0.5 in 2011 to 1.6 this year.

The Cardinals are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle again, as they did last year with Edward Mujica, however I'm not very confident in Axford.  Mujica had a better history, but was having an off year last year when the Cards acquired him.  In Axford's case, its looking more and more like 2011 was the fluke.

However, there is one immediate benefit in that Axford's 'stache will be the most impressive of any reliever the Cardinals have had since Al Hrbowsky. 

In any case, I hope that the Cardinals did not have to give up too much for Axford, as, besides his mustache, he has not been very impressive the last couple years.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pirates are making moves. Do the Cardinals need to make any?

In an effort to spark their team after a recent 6-11 stretch, the Pirates acquired John Buck and Marlon Byrd from the Mets

As if that wasn't enough, the Pirates have been checking in on Justin Morneau as well.

After 20 years without a winning record or playoff berth, the Pirates are definitely "all-in" in their pursuit of a division crown this year.

In the meantime, the Cardinals appear to be standing pat.  John Mozeliak told reporters recently that "trying to get help from the outside is going to be difficult for multiple reasons.  Right now this team is going to have to find a way to do it from within."

There are players out there that have cleared waivers, such as the Nationals Dan Haren, a former Cardinals, who might make sense for the Cards to pursue, but the price appears to be pretty steep.  Adam Kilgore quoted Nationals GM Mike Rizzo as saying it would take a "good package of players to consider moving him."

Considering that the Pirates gave up their #16 and #20 pre-season prospect (per Baseball America), Vic Black and Dilson Herrera, respectively, for Buck and Byrd, a couple of decent, but not great players, Rizzo is probably right to expect more for Haren.

Other than that, there's not much to look at.  Sure, the Nats may have Danny Espinosa on the block, but is he any better than Pete Kozma?

Thus, it appears that things will stay pretty quiet on the trade front for the Cardinals, the players available are either not much of an upgrade or too expensive to pursue and, with the recent strong play of the team (excusing tonight's game), its all the more reason to pass.

Interview with a UCB'er

For our August United Cardinals Bloggers project, we got the pleasure of interviewing (and being interviewed) by our fellow UCB'ers.  Christine Coleman of Aaron Miles' Fastball interviewed yours truly for the project.  Be sure to check out her site to find out more about me.

My task was to interview Matthew "Pip" Phillips of  Here are his responses to my probing questions:

1.   Where do your Cardinals roots come from or how did you become a Cardinals fan?

I grew up in southwestern Illinois cheering for the Cardinals, mostly inheriting the allegiance from my mother, who as a girl was a big fan of Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst. My favorite player was Keith Hernandez, and so when the Cardinals traded him after he captained their 1982 championship team, I felt betrayed and ultimately turned to the dark side (Mets). For the rest of the '80s and until 2006, I rooted against the Cardinals. But thankfully I returned to the fanship of my youth and now cheer again for the Cardinals as a recovering Mets fan.

2.  Why did you create your blog or why did you start blogging?

I started the blog in the fall of 2004 as a way to comment on the playoffs and coordinate watch parties with my friends. At the time, the title was "Fall Classic," but after the World Series I just kept writing and renamed it Fungoes and focused on the Cardinals and have been writing ever since.

3.  Who is your favorite Cardinal player of all time?  What is your favorite moment/memory?

Although with the attaining of a lot more age and a bit more wisdom I can acknowledge that the Cardinals have had many better players (both on and off the field), my favorite remains Hernandez. To this day, I still claim to have the largest collection of Keith Hernandez baseball cards. My favorite moment was probably at the old Busch Stadium when my wife informed me that she was expecting our daughter by giving me a baby-sized Cardinal cap with a pregnancy test attached to it.

4.  What do you feel are this team's greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths: Power starting pitching, balanced lineup, diversity of role relievers (ground-ball guys, strikeout guys, LOOGy). 
Weaknesses: Defense, mismanaging (sacrifice bunting, suboptimal use of players).

5.  How far do you see the Cardinals going this year?

I see them winning the division; anything else would be disappointing. After that, it's of course a crapshoot, more based on luck than talent.

6.   Finally, what moves would you like to see the Cardinals make this offseason?  

Buy out Westbrook's option, which is what they should've done last year.
Let Beltran walk, unless he'll settle for a one-year contract (move Craig to RF and Adams to 1B).
Make a play for Stephen Drew.

Be sure to check out the other interviews on the UCB website to find out more about the Cardinals bloggers.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cardinals place Jake Westbrook on the D.L. and recall Carlos Martinez

As expected and predicted by many, the Cardinals have removed Jake Westbrook from the starting rotation by placing him on the D.L. with a back injury.  In a corresponding move, the Cards called up Carlos Martinez to replace Westbrook on the active roster.  Mike Matheny has tabbed rookie Tyler Lyons to take Westbrook's scheduled start on Monday.  Martinez will return to the bullpen role he filled earlier in the season.

As I wrote after his last start, Westbrook's time had come.  He has been ineffective for over a month and, with the Cardinals in the heart of a pennant race, a change needed to be made.

As for Westbrook, its unclear what, if any, his role will be when he returns from his injury.  In fact, its unclear whether he is really hurt or the Cardinals are trumping up his back problems so they can stash him on the D.L. for two weeks.

In any case, by the time Westbrook is eligible to return, rosters will have expanded so Martinez will be able to stay up with the team.  The Cardinals and their fans are hoping that someone, whether it is Lyons, Martinez or Michael Wacha can establish himself in the rotation by that time, as they are running out of options and we all do not want to see the team forced to turn to Westbrook again.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Will this be David Freese's last season with the Cardinals?

The David Freese/Kolten Wong debate has been brewing for months for the Cardinals.  Ever since Freese got off to a slow start, hitting just .163 in April and Wong turned on the heat with a .375/.420/.615 line in May for AAA Memphis.

Last week the Cardinals finally promoted their second baseman of the future, which left the future for Freese in question. 

The immediate impact is that Freese will lose considerable playing time the rest of this year, but the bigger question is whether this will be the last season Freese spends with the Cardinals.

Freese is still the hometown hero, the 2011 World Series MVP and will always hold a special place in Cardinals fans hearts, but, as with most players, it comes down to "what have you done for me lately?" and in Freese's case, its not much. 

Freese is hitting just .266/.343/.382 on the season, a far cry from the .293/.372/.467 line he put up last year.  He has just 6 homers this year compared to 20 last year.  He is hitting only .234 with RISP compared to .275 last year.

His production has certainly gone down hill and, with an offense that was sputtering, it was time to make a change.  Wong provides the Cardinals with some much needed speed, gives the team better overall defense and his offense should be comparable to what Freese has done this year.

Bottom line, if Freese had put up similar numbers this year to what he did last year, we wouldn't be having this discussion.  But the fact is that he is not and if Wong can prove he's major league ready, the Cardinals will likely try to move Freese this offseason.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Its time for the Cardinals to replace Jake Westbrook in the rotation

After giving up 4, 5, 9 and 6 earned runs in each of his last 4 appearances, many have speculated that today was make or break time for Jake Westbrook, including Rick Hummel.

Well, after being given a 7-run lead after 2 innings, Westbrook proceeded to give up 3 runs in the 3rd and 2 in the 5th before being lifted after just 4.2 innings.

Let's face it, Westbrook's ship is sinking and its time for the Cardinals to abandon ship.

Part of the blame for Westbrook's recent struggles can be put on manager Mike Matheny, who threw Westbrook into the fire on August 7th after starter Shelby Miller had to leave the game after two pitches due to injury. 

Westbrook was a trooper, pitching 4.2 innings on just 3 days rest, giving up 9 runs.  To compound the madness, Matheny gave Westbrook 8 days off before his next appearance, a start on August 16th and was forced to keep Westbrook out there as long as possible due to an overworked bullpen (2 extra-inning games in 3 previous days). Westbrook threw 124 pitches on August 16th, but lasted just 6.2 innings, giving up 7 runs (6 earned).

You could possibly forgive Westbrook for those two bad outings, as he was out of his routine.  However, today he had no such excuses, working on normal rest.

The problem with Westbrook is that he pitches to contact, relying on groundballs to get him out of jams.  But, with a defense that is below-par in terms of range, a lot more of those groundballs have been finding  holes of late. 

Now Matheny faces a difficult decision, should he replace Westbrook in the rotation and, if so, with who?

Michael Wacha is probably the logical choice, but Carlos Martinez and Tyler Lyons are also decent options.

In addition, what do you do with Westbrook if you bump him from the rotation?  Move him to the pen?  As Bernie Miklasz pointed out a while back, Jake needs more time than most pitchers to warm up, not just throwing, but an elaborate pregame routine that involves the trainers.  Can that translate to the bullpen?  Probably not.

Would the Cardinals just release Westbrook?  That's a definite possibility.  They have enough depth behind him to let him go and latch on with another team.  However, its more likely that the Cardinals will come up with some "injury" to give Jake some extra rest and then let him see if he can work out his issues on a minor league rehab assignment.  If that doesn't work out, then he'd likely be released.

In any case, this should be the last we see of Westbrook in the Cardinals rotation.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Can Cardinals turn things around against Pittsburgh?

Let's face it, this is a good, but not great Cardinals team.  The recent stretch has proven that. 

The Cardinals squared off against division leaders Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Los Angeles and lost 10 of 12. 

Perhaps the Cards just caught those teams at the wrong time, but the team is certainly showing signs of mediocrity.

Take away the month of May, in which the Cardinals went 20-7 and the team is just 47-43--pretty average at best.

Looking further, the Cardinals have the biggest run differential in the NL, scoring 574 runs while allowing only 434, for a difference of 140.  Yet they are tied for the third best record in the league.  If you calculate their win expectancy based on their runs scored and allowed, you would expect the team to be 73-44, meaning the Cardinals are 6 games below where they should be.

The biggest culprit for this difference is the Cardinals performance in close games.  The Cards are just 13-14 in one-run games and a lousy 1-5 in extra inning games.

Now, with the Pirates coming into town for an important 3-game series, the Cardinals are in a must-win situation.  Win the series and it could spark the team heading into the homestretch.

I'm sure Mike Matheny will try to downplay the importance of this series, but his actions speak volumes. 

The Cardinals purposely shifted the starting rotation to set up their big 3 starters--Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller and Lance Lynn--for the Pirates series.  

If the Cardinals can somehow sweep this 3-game set, it could go along way towards building momentum for the stretch run, especially with Yadier Molina likely to return from the DL on Thursday.

However, if they were to lose the series against the Pirates or, even worse, get swept by the Pirates, I'm concerned that the team could head into a further tailspin and possibly miss the playoffs altogether. 

It all starts with Wainwright, who needs to come up with a big performance Tuesday, especially after getting extra rest.  If the Cardinals can take the first game in commanding fashion, it could set the tone for the series and perhaps the rest of the season.

There is still time to turn things around, but it needs to start now.

Friday, August 9, 2013

What in the Wide World of Sports is going on with the Cardinals pitching staff?

After a line drive off his elbow forced Shelby Miller to leave his start on Wednesday night after just 2 pitches, the Cardinals have been in scramble mode the last few days trying to recover.

First, Jake Westbrook was called upon to fill the void after Miller's injury, pitching 4.2 innings after just 3 days rest.  The result was an almost expected thrashing to the tune of 13 hits, 2 walks and 9 runs, which prompted Bernie Miklasz to call Mike Matheny out on his policy of using the next day's starter in case of emergency.

Then, as a result of Westbrook being used out of turn, the Cardinals were forced to call up Carlos Martinez to make a spot start last night.  Martinez also only lasted 4.2 innings, due to cramping, putting even more stress on an already overworked bullpen. 

Now comes word that the Cardinals are calling up Michael Wacha to start on Saturday and perhaps stay a while as the Cards create a "de facto six-man rotation".

Add it all up and it makes you think if the Cardinals brass know what they're doing.

First, I agree with Mikalsz on the Westbrook move.  Although Jake was a trooper and did his part to help out the bullpen, he should have never been put in this position in the first place.  Let's not forget than he has already dealt with elbow soreness this year and the history of pitchers throwing on short rest is not good.

Then, by using Westbrook a day earlier than he was scheduled, it put the Cardinals in a bind for a starter.  They were fortunate that Martinez was available, but bringing a guy up to make his first major league start on such short notice is not a recipe for success.

The result is that the Cardinals pretty much gave away two games while in the middle of a pennant race.

I think we are seeing some of the inexperience of Mike Matheny as a manager coming through here and the results have not been favorable.  The Cardinals are still in good shape, as they still have a 97.7% chance of reaching the playoffs, per Baseball Prospectus, but if they were in a tighter race Matheny would have a lot of explaining to do.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Future is bright for the Cardinals....

...and the present is pretty bright too.

While other teams (such as the Cubs) spend years rebuilding, the Cardinals have found success retooling each year, making them seemingly perennial contenders.

Part of that success comes from a farm system that keeps churning out major leaguers at a nice rate, while also supplementing that farm system with wise investments in free agents.

Lose Albert Pujols to free agency.  No problem, we'll just add Carlos Beltran and not miss a beat.

If the only thing that Cardinals fans have to complain about is the lack of production from their shortstop and center fielder, while the team ranks first in the NL in runs scored, then you've got a pretty good team.

So, while we idle through the dog days of August, let's take a peek into the future and look at what the Cardinals 2014 lineup and starting rotation might look like.

2014 Lineup

The big decision here is whether or not to resign Beltran. I've already discussed the argument against resigning Beltran as well as the case for bringing him back on a short-term deal.  Other decisions will be who plays second and third and whether the Cardinals want to try to find an upgrade at short.

If it were up to me, I would let Beltran walk and give youngsters such at Matt Adams and Oscar Taveras a chance to replace him.  Then trade John Jay and either David Freese or Kolten Wong for an upgrade elsewhere.

Thus, my regular lineup for 2014 would look something like this:
  1. Matt Carpenter, 2B
  2. Oscar Taveras, CF
  3. Matt Holliday, LF
  4. Allen Craig, RF
  5. Yadier Molina, C
  6. Matt Adams, 1B
  7. David Freese/Kolten Wong, 3B/2B
  8. Pete Kozma (or possible upgrade), SS
  9. pitcher
2014 Starting Rotation

Things are a whole lot murkier in regards to the Cardinals starting rotation.

First, Jake Westbrook is gone after this season.  That's pretty much a given.

After that, there has been talk of the Cardinals possibly bringing back Chris Carpenter, even though he might be a long shot to ever pitch again.  As much as Carpenter has done for the Cards over the years, I think its time for the team to move on.

The Cards also have two excellent pitching prospects in Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez waiting in the wings.  In addition, there is John Gast and Tyler Lyons to consider as well.  Plus, let's not forget about Jaime Garcia, who should be healthy by next spring (maybe even in time for this year's playoffs). 

Add those guys to projected holdovers Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly, and we could be looking at 9 pitchers vying for 5 spots. 

The way I see it, if Garcia's proves himself healthy after shoulder surgery, he'll likely occupy a rotation spot along with Wainwright, Miller and Lynn. 

Gast, who had shoulder surgery of his own in July, will likely return to AAA to prove he's healthy.  Lyons, while excellent at AAA, has yet to prove he can get major leaguers out, so he'll likely stay at AAA or be used as trade bait.

Which likely leaves us with Kelly, Wacha and Martinez battling it out for the last rotation spot. 

This could then turn out to be a similar battle to this spring's 5th starter battle between Miller, Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal.  I think, like Miller, the Cardinals will want Wacha to win the battle and then will convert Martinez to a reliever (like Rosenthal) and possibly either trade Kelly or send him back to purgatory (i.e. long relief).

Thus, this is how I see the 2014 starting rotation shaping up:
  1. Adam Wainwright
  2. Shelby Miller
  3. Lance Lynn
  4. Jaime Garcia
  5. Michael Wacha
As you can see, the Cardinals have a lot of options for their 2014 lineup and starting rotation.  This is my take on how it might all shake out.  What's yours?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Michael Wacha vs. Carlos Martinez

Most teams consider themselves fortunate if they have one potential top of the rotation prospect in their farm system.  The Cardinals are blessed with two of them.

Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez both rank amongst the top 50 prospects in baseball and, after weighing possible trades involving either of these fine young pitchers, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak wisely decided to hold on to both of them.

But, forced to choose, which one would you rather build your future starting rotation around?

Heading into this season, Martinez was generally regarded as the better prospect than Wacha.  Martinez had the higher upside of the two, while Wacha was considered more polished or, as scouts like to say, Martinez had a higher ceiling, but Wacha had a higher floor.

However, after a strong spring, in which he allowed only 1 unearned run in 11.2 innings, and a strong, albeit brief, stint in the majors, it appears that Wacha has passed Martinez in some scouts' eyes.

Baseball America ranks Wacha as the 12th best prospect and Martinez 24th on their midseason top 50, while has Wacha 18th and Martinez 26th. 

Meanwhile, John Sickels still believes in Martinez, ranking him 9th and Wacha 17th on his midseason top 75 prospects, while Baseball Prospectus has them about even with Wacha 21st and Martinez 22nd.

Personally, I like them both and would not want to part with either of them.  I'm already envisioning a future homegrown starting rotation of Adam Wainwright (yes, I know he wasn't drafted by the Cards, but he was acquired as a minor leaguer), Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez.

However, if I had to choose, I think I would have to pick Martinez.  He has the stuff to be a #1 or #2 starter and seems to be putting it all together in AAA, with a 1.76 ERA in 10 starts. Wacha, on the other hand, is still considered a #3 starter at best by some scouts.  If Martinez can live up to his potential, I think he can be much more dominant than Wacha and therefore more valuable in the long run.

But that's just me.  What do you think?  If you had to choose one or the other, who would you pick?  I'll post a poll on the homepage for your answers.

Monday, August 5, 2013

David Freese vs. Kolten Wong

When it comes to the Cardinals and third base, David Freese is quickly becoming a lightening rod for debate.  Basically, what it comes down to is whether the Cards are better off with Freese manning the hot corner going forward or should they trade him to make room for Kolten Wong.

Bernie Miklasz posted an article last week discussing Freese's lack of power and pondering whether continuing to pay Freese's escalating salary going forward is a wise investment. 

While I agree that Freese has struggled this year and his power is certainly down, I'm not sure that Wong is an upgrade.

First of all, just so we are clear, we are not talking about replacing Freese with Matt Carpenter, who is clearly having a better year.  Carpenter is the only constant in this discussion, as he would just shift from second to his more natural third base position.

The question is whether Wong is an upgrade over Freese, as Wong would take over second, moving Carpenter to third and allowing the Cardinals to either trade (or non-tender) Freese.

Looking at Wong's raw stats at AAA, it appears on the surface that he is having a better year that Freese, hitting .298/.363/.455 with 8 homers, compared to Freese's .273/.352/.395 line with just 6 homers.

However, Wong is still in the minors and playing in the hitter friendly PCL.  Using a major league equivalency calculator, Wong's MLE would be .259/.313/.381 with 6 homers, which actually is worse than Freese.  Also, that is assuming that this year is Freese's "true" level.  Remember that he is just one year removed from his 20 homer, 79 rbi 2012 season.

So, by trading Freese and plugging Wong into the lineup, the Cardinals really wouldn't be getting an upgrade offensively.

However, there are other benefits to making this switch.

One is that Wong would be an upgrade over Carpenter at second defensively.  Assuming that Carpenter and Freese are pretty much a wash defensively at third, such a move would upgrade the Cards defense up-the-middle.

Another benefit would be the obvious savings in terms of money.  Freese will likely earn a raise in arbitration over his current $3 million salary, putting him in the $4-5 million range.  Wong, on the other hand, would only net the major league minimum of roughly $500,000, saving the Cardinals over $3 million.

Finally, adding Wong to the Cardinals lineup would give the team a little more speed, an asset the team really lacks.  Wong has 19 stolen bases at Memphis and certainly is faster than Freese.

Thus, when weighing the pros and cons of Freese vs. Wong, don't think that making this move will immediately give the Cardinals offense a boost, because Wong is likely an inferior offensive player, at least at this point in his career.  What the decision really comes down to is whether the other benefits that Wong provides outweigh the offense that Freese provides.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Why did the Cardinals wait so long to use Joe Kelly in the rotation?

What took you so long?

That is the question many Cardinals fans are probably asking John Mozeliak and Mike Matheny after Joe Kelly turned in another strong performance tonight, leading the Cards to victory over the Pirates and ending the team's 7-game skid.

Kelly pitched 6 scoreless innings, giving up just 3 hits and striking out 4.  Although he also walked 4 hitters, he kept the ball on the ground, inducing 7 groundouts to just 3 flyouts, including one double-play. Oh, and he also went 2 for 3 at the plate, scoring a run.

After losing the 5th starter battle to Shelby Miller in the spring, the Cardinals decided to use Kelly in a long relief role instead of letting him start in the minors to keep him stretched out.  The result was that he was used very little--just 18.2 innings through May, and was ineffective when he was used.

Around that time, with both Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook on the D.L., the Cardinals should have sent Kelly down to AAA to stretch him out and get him back on track.  Instead, the team used a steam of 3 different rookies (John Gast, Tyler Lyons and Michael Wacha) to fill in, before finally turning to Kelly when they were in a pinch.

After making an emergency start on June 5th, in which he lasted 5.2 innings, despite not being stretched out, while giving up only 2 runs (1 earned), the Cardinals finally must have realized that Kelly was a capable starter, because, shortly after they decided to demote Wacha back to AAA to protect his arm, Kelly was named as the 5th starter (almost by default).

So far, Kelly has sparkled in the starting role.  He is 2-1 as a starter, with a 1.84 ERA in 5 starts.  He has allowed 2 or less runs in 4 of those starts, with his only clunker a 6 inning, 4 run effort against the Marlins. 

In addition, its not as if Kelly was terrible as a starter last year.  He compiled a 3.74 ERA in 16 starts. Put it all together and Kelly has a 6-7 record with a 3.28 ERA in 21 starts in the big leagues. Not too bad for the former college closer.

So, why did the Cardinals wait so long to use Kelly in the rotation?  We may never find out the true answer to that question.  But I'm glad he's there now and hopefully he'll continue to convince the team that he should stay there.