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Cardinals name Joe Kelly as fifth starter and put Carlos Martinez in setup role “for now”

Mar 23, 2014, 4:57 PM EDT

Tom Ackerman of KMOX was in Cardinals camp for the announcement from manager Mike Matheny:

Martinez thoroughly out-pitched Kelly this spring in the Grapefruit League, allowing seven fewer runs in almost the same amount of innings, so it’s obvious now that there never really was a competition. Kelly won the trust of management last season with how he pitched down the stretch and into the playoffs, and the Cardinals liked what they saw from the hard-throwing Martinez in an eighth-inning setup role. Kelly, 25, has a 3.08 ERA in 231 career major league innings. Martinez, 22, can jump in as an emergency starter when needed.

  1. okwhitefalcon - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    I think we all knew Kelly would get the gig unless he fell totally flat on his face or got hurt this spring, as Drew said above – “it’s obvious now that there never really was a competition”.

    This makes sense (for now) and allows plenty of flexibility/options with staff alignment if Motte returns and can contribute or if/when a starter goes down or doesn’t perform to expectation as the season progresses.

    • okwhitefalcon - Mar 23, 2014 at 8:14 PM

      Here’s links to’s Cards beat writer Jenifer Langosch’s column and update on the Kelly/Martinez decision, some thoughtful insight/reasoning with quotes from Matheny as well.

      Read here:

  2. spudchukar - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    I don’t know about the “thoroughly” Drew. Martinez pitched better, but Kelly was sparkling in his last outing, pitched well again today, and actually pitched very well three starts ago, but was very unlucky.

    Seems like it was a matter of degrees. None of the other 5 starters, faltered to any meaningful degree in ST. It sucks for Martinez, who certainly pitched well enough to garner a rotation spot, but it would also have been unwarranted for any of the other guys to lose their spot.

    To me, Martinez translates better to the set-up role, better command than Kelly, and there is no reason things can’t change as needed.

    • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:36 PM

      Yeah, but Martinez also “translates better to a starter’s role”, because he has significantly better stuff and Kelly.

      My major concern is that there will not be a viable mechanism to move Martinez back to the rotation. If he stays in the pen all year, then they will not want him starting 35 games the next year. If a starter gets hurt in June, he won’t suddenly be moved to the rotation to pitch 5+ innings. Stretching a guy out in the majors during the season is a tough chore. Will they send him down to stretch him out when Motte comes back? What if none of the starters get hurt or such particularly badly?

      Decisions like this one have a way of becoming permanent even if the player would have greater value in another role. The Cardinals have a lot of back of the rotation types of arms they could bring up to fill a need during the season without so they could leave Martinez in his set-up role…but NONE of those guys have anything close to the stuff Martinez does.

      If they are just trying to manage his work load so that he pitches about 150 regular season innings and can pitch in the post-season, fine…but plans like this have a way of back firing when reality creeps in.

      • spudchukar - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:42 PM

        Please, don’t get me wrong. I am a huge Carlos Martinez fan. And if I had my druthers it would be Miller who would be the odd man out, as he is the least polished of the six.

        That said, what Kelly did down the stretch should not be discounted. I would categorize Martinez as having “more” stuff, not necessarily “better” stuff. Nobody has shown the ability to square up Kelly, his movement is unreal, and he has the uncanny ability to make pitches when he needs to.

        Everything you question is valid too, it is just a very difficult decision. I can neither wholeheartedly agree with it, but neither can I find serious fault.

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:46 PM

        Totally agree. I like Kelly and think he is generally under rated as a starter b/c he doesn’t K many guys…but he also gives of very few hard hit balls (he gave up 0 HR on his sinker last year) and few XBH. He’s not flashy, but he gets the job done.

        My worry is more long-term…that Carlos just gets stuck in a reliever role without getting a real chance to start…and he has the stuff to be an excellent starter….I like all 5 of the starters and Carlos, too….just not enough jobs. Just worried that the combo of innings pitched out of the pen, size, and effectiveness will give the Cardinals too many excuses to be conservative and leave him in the less valuable role forever.

      • spudchukar - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:43 PM

        There is one other option. 6 man rotation.

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:54 PM

        That ain’t happenin’….if for no other reason, that would require more long men and fewer specialists in the pen…or the regular use of starters as relievers on the days they are due to throw between starts…or a 13 man pitching staff (ugh, 12 is already too many).

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:58 PM

        Hell, I guess I should just be happy that no Cardinals were hurt this spring. Taveras is playing everyday in MiLB camp, Wong looked great after a shaky start, Bourjos has hit well and looked good after the tight muscle thing…only “injury” was Garcia, and I’m pretty sure everyone expected that one to happen.

      • dillongeeescapeplan - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:49 PM

        Kelly will regress. He could end up being a nice back end starter, but that’s really it. His FIP and xFIP were more than a run higher than his ERA. He gets some ground balls, but he has pedestrian K and BB rates. Even in the minors, he had a career K/9 around 7.5 and BB/9 of 3.6.

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:51 PM

        He may. FIP is a generalized model. The veracity of the assumptions of that model do not fit all pitchers equally well, which is why some guys out pitch their FIP every year and why other guys “under pitch” their FIP every year. All deviations from FIP do not represent chance, much of those deviations represent true effects, there is just no ability to partition out chance from those effects.

  3. alexo0 - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    “Martinez in bullpen for now”…


  4. cohnjusack - Mar 23, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    That makes two starters who are almost certainly better than Joe Kelly in the bullpen.

    As a starter for his career, Kelly does have a robust 3.03 ERA in 178 innings. Unfortunately, his peripherals show that it is almost certainly unsustainable. 1.374 WHIP, 1.59 K/BB…he’s getting by stranding lots of runners, and that it no sustainable.

    • spudchukar - Mar 24, 2014 at 10:49 AM

      Well it has always been sustainable up til now. As PL argued, some guys don’t fit the FIP model. Kelly has great movement, and nobody can square him up. And he hits 95 and above, and has a better than average change, and a developing curve. His command is sometimes suspect, but he reigned that in down the stretch, and excelled in September and October, when it is most difficult to pitch.

      Until Motte, is ready to assume the 8th inning role, Martinez can be used there, where he has been very effective. I really believe the decision is more about who can handle that spot better in comparison to who would be a better starter. Siegrist, while special, may be overtaxed in the set-up role, and now can be matched up against lefties, and crucial spots. In my mind Matheny made the choice that gives the Cards the best chance to win.

  5. straightouttavtown - Mar 23, 2014 at 7:54 PM

    Martinez is too busy browsing porn on twitter to be a starter lol

    • gibbyfan - Mar 23, 2014 at 8:33 PM

      Wouldn’t be surprised to see Matinez replace Lynn as the season wears on.

    • shadowshand - Mar 23, 2014 at 9:11 PM


      • straightouttavtown - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:23 PM

        You didn’t read the Deadspin article? I thought everybody knew.

      • spudchukar - Mar 24, 2014 at 10:50 AM

        Keep digging.

  6. jrob23 - Mar 23, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    this is all about money. Keep the highly touted prospect pitching in 8th to keep his numbers down and he costs less in arbitration, or get him to sign a cheap contract. He is their 3rd best pitcher by a mile and eventually he’ll get in the rotation. I get why teams do this…because they can. They know if he wins 15-20 games with close to 200k they will be hard pressed to be able to afford him. But these poor young guys. Similar things happen all over baseball see George Springer. Young guys gets screwed.

    • straightouttavtown - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:25 PM

      If it’s all about money, they would keep him in triple-a. It’s not. Agree Carlos should be starting tho. Would stink if they do him like this and ruin him like Joba Chamberlain, Neftali Feliz, and Aroldis Chapman

      • jrob23 - Mar 24, 2014 at 2:31 AM

        he already has major league service time so sending him down does nothing, especially when he can help them win games out of the bullpen. that makes zero sense

    • spudchukar - Mar 24, 2014 at 10:53 AM

      Money has nothing to do with it. The Cards have a payroll of about $108 mil. They aren’t going to base player personnel decisions on a few measly bucks. Martinez is more adaptable to the set-up role, and this gives the Red Birds 6-8 weeks to measure their 5 other starters, knowing they can insert Martinez into the starter role, once Motte returns.

  7. shadowshand - Mar 23, 2014 at 9:10 PM

    Trade Lynn. He’s the most to fall apart or get hurt.

  8. kappy32 - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    Don’t like it. Martinez has the chance to be a dominant starter. I would much rather have 180-200 innings of Martinez as a starter instead of 60 innings as a reliever.

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 24, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      I like it Kappy. Kelly has shown he has the moxi to start (or come out of the pen).
      Martinez has shown he has the moxi to start…in the minor leagues.
      If it’s me…I am giving Carlos another year in the pen and bringing him out for spot starts as needed.

  9. r9n4d8m - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:56 PM

    It’s all about the money.

  10. creek0512 - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    Seriously though, what’s with the 30 year old logo?

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 24, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      Seriously though, you are questioning it?
      It is old-school. It’s retro. It is cool. It is my favorite all time logo.
      And although I am not a fan of tattoo’s…at. all.
      If I were to ever get one this “30 year old logo” would be it.

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