JUPITER, Fla.— All it took was one simple question for manager Mike Matheny today and we got a very big answer. How did Joe Kelly do today in pitching five very nice innings?
“Joe did a really nice job today and he’s going to be our 5th starter,” Matheny said.
There you have it. The final spring question has been answered. Joe Kelly will start. Carlos Martinez will pitch in relief, setting up Trevor Rosenthal in the 8th inning.
“It had zero to do with what Carlos Martinez did not do,” Matheny insisted. “(Martinez) threw the ball exceptionally well. We’re just in a spot where we need to figure out what’s best for our club and having him in the bullpen for now (is best).
“I’m not saying that’s where he’ll always be. I think (Martinez) is eventually going to be a starter and a very good one. But right now we need him out of the bullpen,” Matheny said.
Kelly went five innings today against the Astros and gave up just two runs on two hits. But he walked four and as very upset with himself after the game. He’ll be quite happy to learn he’s in the starting rotation.
Kelly hadn’t been told of the news by the time we spoke with him.
Matheny did say he could see a scenario where the Cardinals need a starter and use a couple “piggyback” games to get Martinez rebuilt up to starter level stamina.