Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that the Cardinals have decided to go with Shelby Miller as their fifth starter, choosing the 22-year-old top prospect over Joe Kelly, who did a solid job starting 16 games last season.
Miller was very impressive in a 14-inning September call-up last season after racking up 160 strikeouts in 137 innings at Triple-A and ranks among Baseball America‘s top 10 prospects for the second straight year.
He projects as a potential long-term ace if things go well and has dominant raw stuff, although Miller’s control was iffy last season with 3.3 walks per nine innings and he served 24 homers in 27 starts. Kelly will begin the season in the bullpen and serve as the fill-in if any injuries strike the rotation.
Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Nick Pivetta will rejoin the Phillies’ rotation, starting Tuesday’s series opener at home against the Cardinals. Vince Velasquez will remain in the bullpen.
Pivetta, 26, allowed 17 earned runs on 31 hits and eight walks with 16 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings across his first four starts of the season. The performance resulted in a demotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In six starts there, Pivetta had a much better 3.41 ERA with a 50/20 K/BB ratio in 37 innings of work.
Velasquez, 26, was solid as a starter, posting a 3.99 ERA across six starts. However, he averaged under five innings and 92 pitches per start. The right-hander tossed two scoreless innings out of the bullpen on Friday against the Brewers but was torched for four runs in two-thirds of an inning on Sunday. Mixed results, to say the least. The Phillies are trying to do what they can with their bullpen, currently missing David Robertson, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek, and Vìctor Arano.