ATLANTA -- Unless a Trade Deadline acquisition changes the complexion of the Cardinals' pitching staff, the organization plans to keep Joe Kelly in the rotation. That means Kelly will start on Thursday, the team's final game in Pittsburgh.
Because of frequent off-days, the Cardinals haven't needed a fifth starter consistently for the past month. As a result, Kelly only pitched three times in July. But having just opened a stretch of 37 games in 37 days, the Cardinals can no longer default to a four-man rotation.
Kelly, who threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings in the Cardinals' loss on Saturday, earned the opportunity to stay in a starting role.
"He did a great job [Saturday]," Matheny said on Sunday. "It was just a real good day. His pace, his determination, you could tell he had a real good idea what he wanted to do with every pitch and executed very well yesterday."
Kelly's infrequent use has put a limitation on how many pitches he's been able to throw in his starts. Getting the opportunity to pitch on a regular turn will eliminate that tight leash. If the situation dictates, Kelly should be free to push to a pitch count of 100 his next time out.
In four starts this season, Kelly has posted a 2.31 ERA and held opponents to a batting average of .218.
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.