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Joe Kelly injury: Cardinals considering Carlos Martinez as a starter

If Kelly's injury causes an "extended absence," Martinez will be considered to replace him.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals placed starting pitcher Joe Kelly on the 15-day disabled list after he strained his hamstring on Wednesday. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derick Goold spoke with team manager Mike Matheny about the team's plans to replace Kelly on Thursday.

The Cardinals' immediate response was the promotion of Triple-A Memphis right handers Eric Fornataro and Jorge Rondon, and demoting Keith Butler. In an organization known for it's ability to produce topflight prospects, Fornataro and Rondon have gone largely unraved about on top prospect lists. Triple-A left hander Tim Cooney is a popular name among talent evaluators, and he could enter into the equation at some point this year, but fellow lefty Tyler Lyons has successful major league experience.

Cardinals fans might be excited to see Martinez, a former top prospect, but the team needs him in the bullpen now, and Kelly might not need an "extended" stay on the disabled list.

As things stand now, Seth Maness and free agent signing Pat Neshek are the only other righties in the bullpen other than Martinez -- and the two rookies from Memphis. The rotation is almost always more important than the bullpen, until it becomes a glaring weakness.

Even if the Cards have to turn to Lyons or someone else to fill the fifth starter spot, they have a strong group that goes one through four. Shelby Miller is of to a rough start, but he's only started three games this season. It's far to early too assume he's going to flail all season.

Martinez starts would be fun to watch, but St. Louis doesn't look like they plan to force the issue.