The fifth spot of the Cardinals’ starting rotation is in a state of flux. The team had hoped that Lance Lynn would lock down that spot, and for a while he was pitching like a legitimate ace. Over his first 13 starts, Lynn recorded a 10-2 record with a 2.42 ERA. He was selected to his first All Star game. His success even sparked a worldwide phenomenon simply known as “Lynnsanity.” But then the wheels fell off. In his next 12 starts, Lynn pitched to a 3-3 record with an unacceptable 5.89 ERA. His inability to retire left-handers (.376 OBP-against) with the same efficiency as right-handers (.283 OBP-against) had caught up to him. Following a two-inning start on August 24th in which he allowed four earned runs, Lynn was replaced in the rotation by right-hander Joe Kelly.
Kelly is certainly serviceable. He has demonstrated that with a 3.61 ERA and 3.96 FIP this season. In my opinion, however, he is a better fit coming out of the bullpen. Kelly relies on his fastball, throwing it 67% of the time. As a starter, Kelly’s fastball reaches 93 miles-per-hour and occasionally touches 94. Out of the bullpen, he is able to amp it up and reach 96-97 miles-per-hour. This season, Kelly has struck out 15% of batters as a starter and 27% of batters as a reliever. He can be a serious weapon out of the pen.
When rosters expand in September, the Cardinals’ brass should give serious consideration to calling up top prospect Shelby Miller and immediately inserting him into the starting rotation. Miller hasn’t enjoyed a great season at Triple-A, at least on the surface. He is 10-10 with a 4.89 ERA. The home run ball has been his nemesis. However, he has done a great job of limiting walks while striking out batters at a high rate. He has 151 strikeouts and only 50 walks in 131.2 innings. Since July 20th, Miller has an incredible 57:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 48.1 innings. With the way he’s pitching right now, Miller could be just what the Cardinals need to make that push for a playoff spot. It’s time to see if he’s ready for the show.
About the Author
Written by David Gorsky
I'm a lifelong sports fan with a particular interest in baseball. I'm a proponent of using SABRmetrics to find a player's true value. I recently graduated from the University of Virginia and I'm ready to start my career in sports media. I can be reached at davidgorsky(at)outlook.com.