JUPITER, Fla (BASEBALL StL) -- Pitchers Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller are best friends who have competed on and off the field for the last couple years. Well, today at 12:00 P.M. Central, they'll both make their last spring training appearances before the Cardinals likely choose which one of them will be the fifth starter to open the season.
Kelly would appear to have the edge, given the fact he's making his third start this afternoon to Miller's one, and how he threw 107 innings last year at the big league level.
The Cardinals would like to have their fifth starter set as soon as possible so they can use the remainder of spring training to build up a pitch count towards 100. It would seem plausible that they'll make an official announcement regarding who that is in the next few days.
Manager Mike Matheny, however, says that is not necessarily the case.
"I want to make it clearly, today isn't the day where we have to make a decision," said Matheny. "You guys (media) are going to come in after the game and ask me who the fifth starter is. That's not necessarily how this is going to work. It doesn't necessarily have to be today."
Whoever does not get the final spot in the rotation - following Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook - could be sent to AAA-Memphis. If there were to be a need for a starter, the club would likely prefer to take someone who has been working regularly in the minors as opposed to someone pitching sporadically in the major league bullpen.
"It's just what helps us and gives us the best chance to win," said Mike Matheny.
With Trevor Rosenthal planted in the big league bullpen, there seems to be just one more spot available in relief. The loser of the Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller competition would then have to compete with Fernando Salas for that job. Salas has been pitching much better this spring, one run allowed in four innings, and just represented Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.