I think the decision to give Joe Kelly, bless him, a rotation spot over Carlos Martinez is a poor one. I read Matheny's quotes, I read Goold's explanations, and I read Ben's excellent overview of the multi-faceted nature of the thing. However, the fact remains that we're starting a worse pitcher over a better one. Less than a week from now, the Cardinals will have the opportunity to increase the odds of putting a win in the books every fifth day. I don't like the idea of deferring.
On the other hand, there's a silver lining to how things ended up. As enjoyable as it has been seeing Carlos handcuff spring training hitters, his incredible stuff is even more extraordinary when he's coming out of the pen. The baseball aesthetician in me is thrilled to get a chance to watch more of the most filthy collection pitches I can recall seeing from a man wearing the cardinal uniform. Still, I look forward to seeing a lot more of them with the saturation turned down just a tick or two in the rotation.
As I discussed here when Lynn and Fernandez faced off last week, Jose Fernandez is quite good. It appears that I used the words "special," "archetype," and "zeus." So that covers that. I also discussed some of the beats happening among their position players this spring, but what about the rest of their rotation? Here's a quick run-down.
Nathan Eovaldi is the name of the fellow whose four-seam fastball lead all of baseball last year in average velocity (100 IP qualifiers). However, compared to front-line starters, he doesn't miss enough bats with that pitch, and certainly not with the rest of his repertoire (7.7 SwStr%). He's supposedly working on his changeup this spring. Just 24, perhaps he can develop a well-rounded arsenal. If he does, he appears to be have a legitimately high ceiling. If not, his peripherals will likely continue to look much like Joe Kelly's.
Henderson Alvarez is a physics experiment trying to determine how many innings a guy can pitch without striking anyone out. Last year things went poorly in that regard as 2012's 3.8 K/9 slipped up to 5.00. Derek Lowe made a career that way. Good luck, Henderson.
Jacob Turner is a former Baseball America top-25 prospect. Turner was traded in 2012 from Detroit for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. He was basically replacement level last year, as he developed some command problems. Here is Michael Jong's withering writing on the man.
It should be worth noting that of the Marlins' best four starters (including Fernandez here), Nathan Eovaldi is the oldest, and he was born in February of 1990. So they have that going for them, and Eovaldi and Alvarez in particular have had good springs. At the least, these are the kind of pitchers I'd much rather see a non-contending team put out there than mediocre mid-career retreads. Eovaldi has a truly good pitch, Alvarez gets a ton of ground-balls, and Turner has pedigree.
Tom Koehler? Brad Hand? Brian Flynn?: There has been a spring competition for the fifth spot. There's nothing to be too enthused over. Koehler has been really good this spring and was ok as the fifth starter toward the end of last season. It sounds like he'll win the spot. The good news is that Andrew Heaney will likely find his way to the majors later this year. He's supposed to be pretty good. You can read about it here if you like.