There’s no question that Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez can start for the Cardinals. The problem is there was only one spot on the rotation remaining. Kelly did enough this spring and in his last two starts, to convince manager Mike Matheny that he could handle the fifth and final spot. Kelly will join a starting staff that includes Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha. The Cardinals have named Wainwright the team’s Opening Day starter.
Matheny decided to make his decision off of what he knew about his staff. Kelly has experience as a starter (31 starts in 62 games over his last two seasons) and Martinez can handle the eighth inning setup role. Martinez appeared in 12 postseason games in 2013 and had five holds and just one loss.
The job was open after starter Jaime Garcia went down with shoulder issues. After losing the fifth-starter job last March to Miller, Kelly joined the rotation in July. As a starter, he went 9-3 with a 2.28 ERA.
Garcia threw about 25 fastballs off the mound at the Cardinals’ spring complex in his first bullpen session since Feb. 18. There will be more bullpen sessions before facing hitters at extended Spring Training. If all goes well, Garcia will get Minor League rehab assignments before being considered ready to return to St. Louis.
Garcia received a cortisone shot and was told by two separate doctors that there was no structural damage to his shoulder.