The Cardinals made official on Thursday what was expected as Joe Kelly will start Game 1 of the National League Championship on Friday in St. Louis. Manager Mike Matheny announced after a team workout at Busch Stadium that Kelly would start Game 1, Michael Wacha in Game 2, and Adam Wainwright in Game 3.
Kelly will oppose Zack Greinke on Friday night in a 5:07 p.m. PT start in St. Louis.
"It's obviously super exciting. It's something that, being a little kid you look forward to, just getting to the playoffs. Being named Game 1 starter, when he told me that I got chills and goosebumps," Kelly said during Thursday's media session. "To have the confidence he has in me, my skipper, it's going to be really fun and I really can't wait for it."
Kelly was 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 37 games, including 15 starts, in 2013. He began the season in the bullpen but after joining the rotation in July was 10-2 with a 2.18 ERA with 49 strikeouts and 33 walks in 86⅔ innings.
"Joe's earned this. He started off this season, and I've said this many times, he showed us so much and earned our respect coming out of spring training in a fight for that fifth spot. It was nothing he did not do, but it worked out where he was going to be working out of the pen and didn't get many opportunities," Matheny said. "But when he did get the opportunities he made the most of them. He continued to come in here, regardless of his role was, trying to figure out how to help the team win."
Kelly talked about his changing roles.
"You have to come to the park mentally prepared to get into the game at any moment. I went through a couple of dry spells where I didn't pitch for 12, 13, 14 days, but if you're not locked in and you get that opportunity you might miss it," Kelly said. "I was just coming to the park and working my tail off, making sure that when I got my chance I was definitely ready for it."