The St. Louis Cardinals entered spring training with the fifth starter position in the rotation up for grabs. It appears that the spotlight on that competition will shine bright over the next few days.
As the spring air was pierced by the sounds of pitchers and catchers warming up and early batting practice taking place, the Cardinals settled in for a competition for the final spot in the rotation. The guys gearing up for that competition were Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly.
It did not take long for plans to change. Veteran ace Chris Carpenter broke the news that he would not be able to compete this year and Lance Lynn was all but assured his spot as the number four starter.
Then there were three.
Miller appeared to be the favorite early on based on his performance last year, his off season work, and the perception that the top pitching prospect in the organization was ready to take the next step. The trio of right handers have seen very little time to this point in the spring and, despite much speculation, the team has not been forthcoming with any news.
Meanwhile, Kelly and Rosenthal had proven that they could handle the pressure of the big leagues down the stretch and repeatedly in the post season last year. Kelly specifically showed over and over again that he could pitch in the rotation after taking over for Jaime Garcia last season due to injury.
Rumors began swirling on Thursday morning, while the team was dealing with news about shortstop Rafael Furcal, that there had been progress in making a decision in the starter competition. One report surfaced saying that the Cardinals held a meeting for their starting pitchers, a meeting that Rosenthal did not attend.
Possibly the most telling and interesting part of that case is that minor league starters were in the same meeting. Signs are pointing to Rosenthal’s fate being decided and he may very well open the season in the bullpen for St. Louis.
Now there are two.
The two pitchers left in the competition will take their cases to the mound on Thursday and Friday with Kelly starting Thursday afternoon and Miller toeing the rubber on Friday. While it would be surprising if these two starts formed the firm decision in the mind of the Cardinals management, it would seem that the spotlight is shining on the next few games to showcase the talent the Cardinals have available.
The decision could come as soon as this weekend. It will most likely come sometime around March 15. Ultimately, the decision is coming soon and it’s down to two young pitchers that have shown they can be successful at the major league level.
Soon, there will be one…
Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
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