Right-handed reliever Keith Butler, who threw one inning of relief after Kelly was forced from the finale in Milwaukee, has been optioned out to Triple-A Memphis. That creates two openings on St. Louis' 25-man active roster.
Replacing them is a pair of hard-throwing relievers, right-handers Jorge Rondon (pronounced "RON-doan") and Eric Fornataro. Joining the Cardinals prior to the four-game weekend series in Washington, each will be making his MLB debut. Both are already on the organization's 40-man roster.
Fornataro and Rondon, both 26 years of age, were in major league camp this spring.
Fornataro was reassigned to minor league camp on March 13 after posting a 7.20 ERA in five innings. The Cardinal Nation's 39th-ranked prospect struck out one and walked two, hit one batter and threw one wild pitch while with St. Louis.
Upon hitting the back fields in Jupiter, Fornataro fired five scoreless frames on two hits and a walk, fanning a pair. With Memphis in the regular season to date, he has continued his momentum with five more run-free frames on one hit, one walk and fanning two. Fornataro finished three games, picking up one save.
With Memphis in the regular season, Rondon has been scored upon in two of five outings, with a 5.40 ERA over his five innings of work. He has walked no one and struck out two. PCL batters are hitting a collective .333 against the fastball-slider specialist in the early going.
Seldom used in St. Louis, Butler returns to Memphis after allowing six earned runs in two innings on six hits, a strikeout and a walk. The Redbirds other roster addition has not yet been disclosed.
With Kelly's turn in the rotation not coming up again until Monday in New York, it appears the Cardinals may carry the extra reliever until then. At that point, someone would leave the 25-man roster if left-hander Tyler Lyons is promoted from Memphis to make the start against the Mets. Perhaps the two relievers will have a four-game competition to determine who remains with St. Louis beyond the weekend.
If Lyons is recalled, expectations should be tempered. Remember that the lefty was hit for 13 earned runs in just eight Grapefruit League innings. In three starts for Memphis, the results have been much better, with seven earned runs in 19 PCL frames for a 3.20 ERA. Lyons' Triple-A strikeout to walk count is 18 to five.
An in-house alternative to start is Carlos Martinez. In my opinion, if Martinez is given the ball on Monday, it may suggest a longer stay on the DL ahead for Kelly. It would also put an already-shaky St. Louis pen at further risk.
Of course, any subsequent moves are speculation at this point.
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