We have a problem. We’re running out of adjectives to describe Joe Kelly and the impact he’s having on this team.
He’s the stopper. A stud. A Ferrari showing what makes him luxury. In many respects, he’s the constant in an inconsistent playoff picture.
He’s the shot in the arm the Cardinals needed, especially as the other starters sputtered.
Of course, getting a lift from the offense doesn’t hurt.
Yesterday, he did all that again and salvaged a PNC Park winner, bringing the Cardinals back into a first-place tie as they head for Cincinnati.
I’m not going to pretend I haven’t enjoyed his rise from forgotten “long reliever” to “elite starter.” I have, a lot. But really, he’s doing exactly what players on championship teams have to do — step up.
As the Cardinals head for round two of the showdown with their NL Central foes, that’s precisely what they need from more pennant-hungry Redbirds.
The Pirates aren’t going away. In fact, they’re going all-in, making whatever additions they feel necessary to hold the Cardinals at bay. Unless John Mozeliak shocks us all with a late acquisition, these are the Birds that are going to make a run. And more guys than Joe Kelly need to step up.
The good news is, we don’t have to see PNC Park anymore in the regular season!
More good news: after the Reds and the Pirates, the Cardinals face sub-.500 teams the rest of the way.
Today, we test Adam Wainwright’s short-term memory. Here’s hoping he bounces back like a true ace should. Tuesday, it’s Michael Wacha who earned the start. Wednesday it’s Miller, and Thursday the series in Cincy ends with Lance Lynn … who will also need to put his last start out of his mind. (Fans may have a harder time with that, though.)
If Wainwright is correct and this team will go as far as its starting pitching carries them, this second go-round with the Reds and Pirates — especially now, sitting tied at the top of the standings — may be even more significant than the last!
…no pressure or anything, though.
Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on twitter @tarawellman.