(Baseball StL) -- The try-out for the Cardinals fifth starter is over.
It was thrilling to see a young, excited John Gast perform well in his first start. Tyler Lyons looked very solid at first as well. And didn’t we just drool over the talent and poise of a 21-year-old Michael Wacha?
But Gast has a mysterious shoulder injury, Lyons demonstrated he is not quite ready for the majors and Wacha – while impressive – is not yet prepared for the every-fifth-day-grind that is major league pitching.
Through all of this, Joe Kelly was a good scout, sitting in the bullpen, patiently waiting for his turn.
He made a spot start on June 5 against Arizona and pitched just short of six innings, giving up one earned run. Friday night, in rescuing a struggling Lyons and the Cardinals, Kelly pitched 5 innings, giving up no runs and holding the Rangers in check after Lyons allowed four runs in the first two innings.
This is not a knock on Lyons. Like Gast and Wacha, he’s a young man thrust into a difficult spot before he was ready. He pitched as well as could be expected for someone who was looking at a major league debut in 2014-15. But the proof is in the numbers. None of the three youngsters are ready yet to carry the pill to the bump every fifth day, and Lyons' return to Memphis indicates the Cardinals feel he needs more polish.
Kelly is. At this point in his career, he is not a 20-game winner, not a stopper, not a shut down ace. But he is a very steady and reliable guy whose 3.53 ERA last year in 12 decisions is exactly what the Redbirds need out of a fifth starter.
He is also not a bullpen guy and he’s not short relief. He is a starter who can reliably keep a team in a ballgame.
Give him the job.