Kelly chosen as Cardinals’ No. 5 starter after win

Joe Kelly could have done without the walks, but he emerged from his start Sunday with the final spot in the Cardinals' season-opening rotation.

Steve Mitchell/Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

JUPITER, Fla. — Joe Kelly was told that he will be the Cardinals’ No. 5 starter after taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning Sunday in St. Louis’ 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Carlos Martinez will go to the bullpen.

"We are just in a spot where we’ve got to try and figure out what is best for our club," said Matheny, noting that Martinez is a proven commodity in the bullpen.

Kelly lost a competition last spring to Shelby Miller, but moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation later in the year. He started 15 games for the Cardinals in the regular season and four more in the postseason and had a 3.08 ERA.

Martinez thrived in the setup role late last season, including in the playoffs. He will return to eighth-inning duty, setting up closer Trevor Rosenthal, despite allowing only three earned runs and striking out nine in 15 1/3 spring innings.

"I believe that he is eventually going to be a starter and I believe he is going to be a very good one, but right now we need him to help our club out of the bullpen," Matheny said.

Kelly’s control fluctuated in Sunday’s start, during which he struck out five but also walked four. He allowed two runs and two hits in the sixth and didn’t get an out before being lifted.

"I wouldn’t say it was great, by any means," Kelly said before learning he would be in the rotation. "The walks are just something that I absolutely don’t like."

Shortstop Jhonny Peralta gave the Cardinals the lead in the second with his third homer of the spring. Matt Holliday hit his first in the third and Matt Adams also connected in the third, a two-run shot off Astros starter Jerome Williams.

Williams gave up six runs and nine hits in four innings.

"It was one of those days where balls were finding the bats and balls were finding the holes," Williams said. "I left about three or four pitches up and they took advantage of them."

Closer Trevor Rosenthal took a comebacker off his backside in the ninth. The ball caromed to third baseman Daniel Descalso, who threw to first in time to get Marwin Gonzalez. Rosenthal remained in the game and recorded the save.


While Matheny named Kelly to the starting rotation, he declined to give the order in which the starters will appear. Adam Wainwright will be the Cardinals’ Opening Day starter. He will be followed, in an order to be announced later, by Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller and Kelly.


Jaime Garcia threw a 25-pitch bullpen session from the mound for the first time since the second week of spring. Garcia had experienced soreness in his surgically repaired shoulder. He was expected to contend for the Cardinals’ fifth starting spot before experiencing the discomfort.

Reliever Jason Motte is scheduled to long toss Monday as he works his way back from ligament replacement surgery.


The Cardinals sent five players to the minors — one of whom was 23-year-old Aledmys Diaz. The newly signed Cuban shortstop went 3 for 5 in two major-league games before heading to Double-A Springfield.

"He just kind of plays a little more experienced baseball than you would expect him to," Matheny said.


St. Louis also optioned reliever Sam Freeman and outfielder Joey Butler to Triple-A Memphis. With Freeman gone, that leaves Jorge Rondon, Keith Butler and Scott McGregor competing for the final spot in the Cardinals’ bullpen. The Cardinals also optioned infielder Greg Garcia to Triple-A Memphis and reassigned infielder Luis Mateo to minor-league camp.