The St. Louis Cardinals suffered what could be a season changing bad break on Wednesday afternoon. Starter Joe Kelly “tweaked” his hamstring steaming down the line on a bunt in the top of the fifth, throwing in limbo the status of one of the hottest starters in baseball. While manager Mike Matheny was his usual no show, no tell self, Kelly seemed more shocked by it than anything.
Kelly had been off to a tremendous start, posting the best ERA on the club of .059 and was in the midst of another stellar performance against the Milwaukee Brewers when the incident occurred. Kelly immediately waived for the trainers to come in and look at him as he was obviously in some serious pain. Regardless of severity, a pitchers’ legs are his power station, and it seems likely Kelly will miss at least a few starts.
This gives the club a chance to see if its vaunted depth really can live up to its hype. The Cardinals have some options to try in Kelly’s place, including 26-year-old Tyler Lyons and Tim Cooney. Neither one presents anywhere near the stuff of Super Joe, however. Lyons has struggled in limited duty with a low 90s fastball, and Cooney, 23, presents a similar fastball, but shows potential for a better than average curve, although he is not projected to be a dominant starter.
One man who is projected as a starter, perhaps the best in the game one day, is set-up man Carlos Martinez. Fans no doubt will be clamoring for his debut as a starter, but not so fast-Matheny values routine and chemistry and thus far seems quite happy with his bullpen setup. Matheny is not one to cave to pressure, and Lyons has been seen and did not impress, so do not be surprised if lefty Tim Cooney gets the call soon.