After a rocky start to the season, the St. Louis Cardinals' starting pitching stabilized during the third turn through the rotation
Jack Flaherty (1-1, 1.76 ERA) will try to continue that trend when the Cardinals host the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday to open a three-game series at Busch Stadium
Flaherty allowed one earned run in 5 1/3 innings at Colorado in his last start. Jordan Montgomery (two runs in 6 1/3 innings), Jake Woodford (5 1/3 scoreless innings), Steven Matz (two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings) and Miles Mikolas (two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings) followed with solid outings.
"It's always been this way since I've been here -- we build off of each other as starters," Flaherty told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Like it takes two good ones in a row, and it's like the next guy is going to go put a good one together. It wasn't great the first run through. It takes one or two in a row and everyone starts rolling off of each other. ... Then you go."
After walking 13 batters in 10 innings during his first two starts this season, Flaherty walked just one against the Rockies.
"I think being able to get through the last two starts while walking 13 guys helped, Flaherty said. "Just like, ‘OK, command has been all over the place. But if we find a way to throw it over the plate, good things are still happening.' "
Flaherty is 0-1 with a 2.77 ERA in two career starts against the Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks will counter with Merrill Kelly (0-2, 2.93 ERA), who struggled with his control in his last two starts while walking eight batters in 11 2/3 innings
Kelly allowed three runs on one hit in six-plus innings in his last start, a 7-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. He struck out seven batters and came out of the game feeling encouraged.
"Tonight is definitely the best I felt in a while," Kelly said afterward. "I felt like I could execute pretty much everything when I needed it. Changeup was really good, curveball was landing when I needed it to. I gotta definitely hand a lot of it to (catcher Gabriel Moreno). We were definitely working on a really good page."
The game got away from Kelly and reliever Miguel Castro in the seventh inning.
"I would have liked to get through that seventh, obviously would have left a better taste in my mouth," said Kelly, who gave up a homer and walked two in the seventh before leaving with none out. "But you know, we take the positives this early in the season and then just try to build on them. So I'm happy with how I felt and definitely take this one and then kind of build it into the next one."
Kelly is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in four career starts against the Cardinals
Cardinals outfielder Alec Burleson exited Sunday's game with a shin contusion after fouling a ball off his leg in the third inning, but manager Oliver Marmol got a positive medical report after the game
"He's good, everything came back fine," Marmol said. "We'll see how he comes in here (Monday) and go from there."
The Diamondbacks hope to have lefty Joe Mantiply back in their bullpen for this series after he recovered from shoulder fatigue. His second rehab game for Double-A Amarillo went well
--Field Level Media