(BaseballStL) - Things shouldn't be this hard for a pitcher as good as Joe Kelly. He was one of the best pitchers in the National League last year constructing a 2.69 ERA in 124 innings.
Yet due to the abundance of talented pitchers on the roster, the 25-year old from Anaheim is guaranteed nothing heading into 2014.
Last year he entered spring training coming off a successful run at the end of 2012 but still needed to compete for a starting spot with Shelby Miller. Kelly lost that competition but later returned to the rotation when injuries took place.
Kelly sees similarities between last spring and the one that awaits him in a few weeks.
"It's very similar. It's just going out there and trying to pitch as best as you can and see what happens. It's not up to any of the players. You just go out there and perform," Kelly said.
While the UC Riverside alum could find himself near the top of the rotation with Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha he could easily find himself back in the bullpen. But he doesn't concern himself with labels. Kelly just wants to pitch.
"Everyone puts numbers behind pitchers and I've seen some darn good number fives and I've seen some darn good number ones. If you put it that way I'm not going to sell myself short. I'm going to go out there and try and take (Adam Wainwright's) spot," Kelly joked.
A lot won't be in his control. Kelly has no say in how well Jaime Garcia pitches. He has no say in what Lance Lynn does. Same goes for Carlos Martinez.
But rest assured over the course of the 2014 season Joe Kelly will be on the mound an awful lot.