Cardinals' bullpen finally at full strength

Cardinals' bullpen finally at full strength

CINCINNATI -- After playing the last 11 games with some sort of limitation attached to his bullpen, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny anticipated managing on Sunday night with all seven of his relievers actually available for use.

Having had three days off since throwing 80 pitches in a spot start, Joe Kelly was cleared for use in the series finale with the Reds.

"Yesterday he felt pretty good, and we fully anticipated that he would be ready to go today," Matheny said. "It would be nice to have a full slate down there again."

Indeed, it's been a while since Matheny has had such a luxury. The string of games with a shorthanded 'pen began on May 30, when the Cardinals were exposed late because of the unavailability of Edward Mujica and Trevor Rosenthal. A rainout the next day forced the Cardinals to then play several games without turning to Kelly, as they needed him to fill in as a starter due to a doubleheader adding a complexity to the schedule.

During that stretch, the Cardinals have added and subtracted from the bullpen several times to ensure that there would be enough fresh arms. With Kelly now free to pitch again, the Cardinals have a defined long reliever ready to go to, if necessary.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.