Joe Kelly threw a football to improve his curveball

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Joe Kelly has impressed onlookers in Cardinals camp with his improved curveball and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes that the right-hander credits throwing a football during the offseason for the change:

Kelly said by throwing the football he was able to find an arm slot that he could consistently use and a shorter arm swing that adds to his deception. He was able to condition his hand’s release for better control. He shifted his usual grip on the curve to meet the new arm slot.The righty acknowledged that he worried about “losing velocity” by making the change. But he hasn’t.

Kelly stepped into the Cardinals’ rotation down the stretch last season and was fantastic, going 9-2 with a 2.09 ERA, but St. Louis’ impressive starting pitching depth means he’s not even guaranteed to be a starter this season. Goold notes that Kelly is one of seven starters competing for four openings behind Adam Wainwright, so that’s where the improved curveball could factor in.

And, really, Sam Bradford’s gripon the Rams’ starting job can’t be that secure anyway.

Report: Nationals sign reliever Brandon Kintzler to a two-year deal

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Both a Kinsler and a Kintzler made headlines at the Winter Meetings. After the Angels acquired second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Tigers, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Nationals have inked reliever Brandon Kintzler to a two-year contract, pending a physical. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the deal is worth $10 million and includes a third-year option worth $6 million.

Kintzler, 33, spent the latter half of his 2017 campaign with the Nationals after the Twins traded him. Between both clubs, he put up an aggregate 3.03 ERA with 29 saves and a 39/16 K/BB ratio in 71 1/3 innings.

Sean Doolittle will handle save situations for the Nationals. Kintzler and Ryan Madson will bridge the gap to him in the seventh and eighth innings.