2013 NLDS: 5 Reasons For St. Louis Cardinals to Have Confidence in Joe Kelly

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St. Louis Cardinals Fans Can Be Confident in Kelly

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Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals will send Joe Kelly to the mound for Game 3 of the NLDS at PNC Park on Sunday. With the series tied 1-1, a lot is riding on this young man’s shoulders.

Kelly did not begin the 2013 season as a starter. He competed hard in spring training for the job, but his good friend Shelby Miller won the fifth spot in the rotation. Kelly was sent to the bullpen. Now Kelly is going to start a playoff game, and Miller will be in the bullpen. This has not impacted their friendship. They still plan to be the best man in each other’s weddings in November.

Kelly was a closer in college at UC Riverside, so the bullpen is not foreign territory. In his 22 appearances as mainly a middle reliever, Kelly had no wins, three losses and two holds. He started out with an ERA of 10.12, but brought it down to 3.86 in his final relief appearance. The Cardinals used him rather sporadically, but he was ready when he got the call.

In his 15 starts, Kelly’s ERA is 2.18, with 10 wins and two losses. He clearly relishes the role. Kelly was an outfielder on his high school team until they needed a pitcher for the third game of a triple-header. Kelly pitched the full seven innings. He does what his team needs him to do.

Kelly is not a strikeout pitcher, although he can throw 95-plus mph. The Cardinals have encouraged him to force ground balls. He just doesn’t have the amazing stuff that wows, but he gets the job done.

Here are five reasons to have confidence in Kelly.

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5. He Makes His Dreams Come True

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Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

In an essay he wrote in elementary school, Kelly predicted that he would become a baseball player.

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4. Postseason Experience

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Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Kelly pitched in relief during the 2012 playoffs, appearing in seven games. He allowed only two earned runs in the WS Game 7 blowout

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3. Stopper

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

He put a stop to a seven-game and a three-game Cardinals losing streak this season, both by beating the Pittsburgh Pirates. Seven of his 10 wins were immediately following a Cardinals loss.

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2. Joe Cool

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Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Nicknamed by his teammates, Kelly can maintain his composure even when things aren’t going his way. He doesn’t let games get away from him, which will be important with the loud crowd at PNC Park probably hoping to rattle him

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1. Lights Out at PNC Park

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In two starts (both wins) at PNC, Kelly has allowed only one earned run. Cardinals fans should have confidence in Kelly come Sunday.

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