Exit Interview: Joe Kelly

Last year, I spent the time immediately after the season examining each player that had made an appearance in St. Louis during the season.  This series was well received and so I’m bringing this idea back for the 2013 offseason.  More summaries than anything, I imagine the player coming into Mike Matheny‘s office and having a short conference before heading home for the winter.  Stats are just the ones accumulated for the Cardinals during the regular season.

This year’s Exit Interview series is brought to you by Bonfyre.  A large number of the United Cardinal Bloggers used Bonfyre all season long and found it a great way to interact and discuss things in a limited audience.  No need to worry about some pseudo-fan crashing your Facebook conversation or trying to explain fine points in 140 characters on Twitter. Invite who you want to the group and get to talking.  Share pictures as well–Bonfyre is a great way to document parties or other events, especially for folks that can’t be there.  Sign up today and give it a try.

Name: Joe Kelly

Season stats: 10-5, 2.69 ERA, 37 games, 124 IP, 124 H, 44 BB, 79 K, 1.36 WHIP

Hero/Goat: Hero 7, Goat 6

Overall grade: B+

Positives: When the rotation was falling apart, Kelly stepped in and made a significant impact.  In that no-man’s-land of long relief on a staff of workhorses (similar to what we saw Shelby Miller go through during October), Kelly didn’t make it into the rotation until July 6.  He didn’t lose a game in that role until September 12 and in that span he went 8-0 with a 2.10 ERA.  Was he pitching over his head?  Most likely.  However, that’s exactly what the team needed.  Without that stabilization, the path of this season probably plays out much differently.  And, of course, he brought the goofy with his dance moves, his humor and, yes, humpDAAY.

Negatives: While Kelly was able to put up some great results, you always felt he was walking the tightrope.  He put a lot of runners on (his 1.36 WHIP was the worst of any starter not named Jake Westbrook) and even though he can run his fastball into the high nineties, he didn’t have an overly impressive strikeout rate.  His postseason was fairly pedestrian as well, though the Cards went 2-2 in his starts.

Outlook: There will be a place for Kelly on this team next season, assuming other teams don’t find him a desirable trade chip.  Teams are getting smarter, so it’s not likely he’d bring in as much as he might have even 10 years ago.  It would seem he’d be in a competition for the back end of the rotation, but could easily wind up as a bullpen guy yet again.

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