The Cardinals welcome a new arm into their starting rotation in Joe Kelly, who is out to prove he belongs in St. Louis on Saturday night against Miami. Kelly will face another young pitcher in Marlins right-hander Nathan Eovaldi.
Kelly is making his second start this season after some stellar work on the mound during June. He compiled a 0.96 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP in 18 2/3 innings during the season's third month.
While he has proved stellar coming out of the bullpen, starting will prove to be a test of endurance for Kelly, who notched a season-high 80 pitches in his lone start -- 5 2/3 innings in a 10-3 loss to the D-backs on June 1.
His past two outings, however, show promise. Kelly threw 77 pitches in five scoreless frames of relief against the Rangers on June 21, and 5 1/3 more scoreless innings against the Athletics on June 28.
"I'm not sure. It's not up to me," said Kelly when asked about his potential pitch count. "If I'm getting 10-pitch innings, and it's the eighth inning with 80 pitches, I'm sure I'll go nine. But I don't know a pitch count or anything. I'm just going to go out there and pitch as long I can to keep my team in the game."
Kelly faces a pitcher in Eovaldi who has experience with high pitch counts. In 22 starts with the Dodgers and the Marlins last season, Eovaldi surpassed 100 pitches nine times, including a 115-pitch effort against the Rockies on Aug. 18, 2012.
Miami has taken more caution this year with Eovaldi, who began the season on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. He has not thrown more than 89 pitches in any of his three starts with the Marlins.
Eovaldi felt discomfort in his shoulder late near the end of a solid Spring Training, resulting his in the right-hander's DL stint.
"Nathan has picked up where he was in Spring Training," Miami pitching coach Chuck Hernandez said. "He's commanding the ball a little bit better. His stuff has obviously been good. He was going to go as far as command took him. He just needed to sharpen up his fastball command. I felt like he was on that trail in Spring Training pretty well, until he had that setback. He's been fine."
Cardinals: Mujica rebounds after blown save
One night after his first blown save of the season in a 6-5 loss to the Angels, Cardinals closer Edward Mujica was lights-out on Friday night. He struck out two batters in a perfect ninth for his 22nd save in a 4-1 win against the Marlins.
Mujica needed only 14 pitches to get through the heart of Miami's lineup. Mujica got slugger Giancarlo Stanton to ground out and fanned Logan Morrison swinging.
Marlins: Fish going deep
Morrison tied Friday night's game at 1 with a leadoff home run in the top of the second. The homer was only Morrison's second since making his season debut on June 9.
With Morrison's home run, Miami has left the yard in each of the four games it has played during its current road trip. The Marlins' season-best streak of consecutive games with a homer is five, set from June 21-26.
• St. Louis leads the Majors with a +120 run differential.
• Marlins closer Steve Cishek has a scoreless innings streak of 12 1/3 innings. He has converted 12 of his past 13 save chances and sports a 0.56 ERA in his past 18 appearances.
• Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna leads all NL rookies (minimum of 200 plate appearances) with a batting average of .294 (67-for-228).
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.