Although he is a part of a St. Louis Cardinals‘ staff loaded with pitching, including Michael Wacha and perennial top five starter Adam Wainwright, Cardinals fifth starter Joe Kelly should be monitored for fantasy baseball purposes as the youngster is underrated and oftentimes overshadowed by members of his staff, making him a possible savvy waiver wire pickup.
In 2013, his second MLB season, Kelly was stellar for the Cardinals, making 15 starts and pitching to a 10-5 record with a 2.69 ERA and a respectable 1.35 WHIP. There is no doubt that Kelly can struggle with his command at times (3.2 walks per nine innings in 2013), but he features an above average fastball, curveball and change-up that make the 25-year-old dominant when in control of his pitches.
A dismal Spring Training (2-1 with a 6.28 ERA in four starts) helped Kelly fall completely off the radar in fantasy circles, and although he seemingly walked a tight-rope in his first start of 2014 against the Pittsburgh Pirates last week, Kelly got the win while pitching 5.1 innings giving up one run on six hits with four strikeouts and four walks.
Kelly and the Cardinals face off tonight in St. Louis with the Chicago Cubs, that are not exactly offensive juggernauts, which could make him an ideal streaming option in high-transaction or daily fantasy leagues considering he comes cheap, but I recommend monitoring his start against the Cubs to see if he can lower his prowess for walking batters and show more command of his stuff.
Kelly is currently owned in 6.4 percent of ESPN leagues and 29 percent on Yahoo! — so there is no hurry whatsoever in giving him a chance on your roster, but a few more solid performances could change that in a jiffy; so monitor Kelly’s progress and act accordingly.