Shelby Miller My Favorite For Fifth Starter
With the news Chris Carpenter may never pitch again, fantasy owners and prospect followers alike are excited about the possibility of a young Cardinals arm in the starting rotation. Will it be Trevor Rosenthal? Joe Kelly? Shelby Miller? I’m not sure, but the fact Twitter chatter started with, “Cardinals lookin at Lohse” and ended with “3-way battle for 5th starter” is promising.
One thing I’ve never understood about roster makeup at the Major League level is the propensity for teams to bring in veteran pitching at the expense of young talent. Take the Diamondbacks for example. They sign Brandon McCarthy with both Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin on the outside looking in. Then, they acquire Randall Delgado in the Justin Upton deal and are left with at least two minimum salary pitchers (Corbin and Delgado) who project similarly to one signed for 15.5 million.
Of course Kyle Lohse was far from your run-of-the-mill veteran starting pitcher in 2012, but a novice in advanced statistics is able to point out just how fluky his surface stats were. For fantasy purposes, I owned Lohse at $1 last year and he produced $28 in value in a 5×5. Even with 16 wins and a 2.86 ERA, not a single owner assigned an extra dollar to him in Ottoneu arbitration.
The fact no team is willing to part with a first round pick to sign the right-hander is also an indication Major League Baseball as a whole isn’t drinking the Kool-Aid either.
As for Cardinals rotation options. FanGraphs fans projections are below. In recent years, these have been pretty reliable.
Of Miller, Rosenthal and Kelly, I’m forced to heavily weigh perceived pedigree when discussing the three. It may seem silly on the surface, but years at the ballpark has taught me first round picks and big international signings are given every opportunity to shine — Often at the expense of equally talented, but lesser known players.
As a 2009 first round pick, Miller IS the pedigree guy in this equation. At 22, he’s coming off a huge second half of 2012 including 13 2/3 dominant innings out of the Cardinals bullpen. Even at his worst, Miller still maintained lofty rankings and positive chatter within the industry. He won’t be a reliever long term and will either be in the big league rotation, or back in Triple-A. Regardless of what’s said in the media, I suspect Miller will be given the inside track.
Rosenthal has tremendous helium entering 2013. Last June, a veteran scout raved about the right-hander and he didn’t disappoint. I prefer him as a starting pitcher, but his power stuff and track record of minor league durability makes him the most likely to go the starter, turned reliever, back to starter role. If given a starting spot, I have little doubt he’d be a top-3 guy in their rotation. I never wish injury on any player, but a slow start or DL stint from Jaime Garcia due to his shoulder woes may create an opening for both Miller and Rosenthal.
Joe Kelly is a former third round pick considered a sinker guy with a high floor. If this is accurate, then how in the world did he average 94.4 mph on his fastball in 2012? Regardless, his peripherals don’t pop like Rosenthal or Miller, leaving him on the outside looking in. Going back to last season, I felt Kelly was a safe, unbreakable, and somewhat expendable starting pitching prospect which is why the Cardinals gave him starts over more highly regarded prospects. I really like Joe Kelly for the pitcher he is, but it’s a mid-rotation ceiling, not front line starter.
For me, the BEST Cardinals staff includes Miller as the fifth starter, Rosenthal as a high leverage reliever and Kelly as a jack-of-all-trades type. However, injuries and attrition may result in all three being rotation mates sooner than expected.
24 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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