7/31/2014 3:25 A.M. ET
Kelly struggling to find fastball command
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- Wednesday marked Joe Kelly's fourth start since returning from the disabled list, yet he continues to wait for his fastball command to also make a similar return.
Kelly lasted five innings in the Cardinals' 12-1 loss to the Padres. The game turned ugly long after he exited, though Kelly had his troubles, too, particularly with his fastball. It's a pitch that has been unreliable for the right-hander since missing nearly three months on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
"It's running a lot," Kelly said of the pitch. "It's just something that I have to learn how to control here and be better at next time. I've been throwing good off-speed pitches, I feel, in all these games. My curveball was my best pitch today. I should have thrown it 100 times. But you can't do that, obviously. It definitely all starts with the fastball."
Kelly has pitched past the fifth only once in his four July starts. That was in a July 19 gem, a start that was arguably the best of his career. It has since been followed up with two subpar performances. He scattered seven hits while making his first career start against the Padres on Wednesday and has now allowed 16 runs in 19 2/3 innings since rejoining the rotation.
"I thought he was OK," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's amazing how it looked like he had good pitches that were getting hit hard at times. It should have worked out a little better for him."
Nothing brewing but Mozeliak open to more deals
SAN DIEGO -- In acquiring Justin Masterson from the Indians on Wednesday, the Cardinals succeeded in their search to add to their rotation depth. But does the addition actually mean the Cardinals are done dealing before the non-waiver Trade Deadline?
General manager John Mozeliak acknowledged that he is "not overly optimistic" that the Cardinals will make another deal before Thursday's 3 p.m. CT deadline, but he has also not clipped the phone lines.
"I think we've always tried to position ourselves as opportunistic," Mozeliak said. "If something comes our way, we want to be prepared. Clearly, us being connected to a lot of different things, that's just by us showing some interest. Whether that means there is traction or not, I would probably lean toward the not. But a lot of things can change."
The Cardinals have inquired about the availability of starters more accomplished than Masterson, but with a better return would come a heavier cost. If the Cardinals were to deal again, it would likely be to add one of those marquee starting pitchers.
"We're open for business to see what would happen," Mozeliak said. "I'm not overly optimistic that we'll do anything. We'll take our time, what little we have left, and see if we cannot improve."
Offensive upgrade from trade market unlikely
SAN DIEGO -- Though the Cardinals' primary objective was to add a starting pitcher in advance of Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, general manager John Mozeliak also has considered all sorts of creative ways to improve the offense. He's yet to find a solution.
The Cardinals, projected before the season to have one of the National League's most prolific lineups, have underachieved greatly through two-thirds of the season. The unit entered Wednesday last in the NL in homers (68), 14th in runs scored (386) and 12th in slugging percentage (.372).
Yet, with a shortage of available impact hitters and no obvious position to put one, the Cardinals are unlikely to find a boost from the outside.
"We certainly have thought about how we can do that, and I just don't think there are a lot of opportunities out there at this point," Mozeliak said. "You're just not hearing a lot of names from the offensive standpoint being bantered about. And fit, yeah, that is a concern. It's complicated. I feel like we have thought long and hard about this, but we have not come up with a viable solution."
The Cardinals' need for more offense is one reason, too, why the club has been hesitant to consider including top prospect Oscar Taveras in a deal for a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. Taveras, who will be under team control for another six seasons, is the player other teams want to include as the centerpiece of a big deal. The Cardinals are wary of parting with their right fielder of the future, unless they were to receive a substantial return.
"Our expectations are for a return that probably very few people could have stomached," Mozeliak said. "But the other part of trading somebody like Oscar would be: What is our next closest Oscar? Here we're looking at a team that has been struggling for offense, trying to get it going, and you're trying to take away a piece that may be a key component of your offense down the road, I think, is a little concerning as well. [We're] not just focused on this year, but out years."
• Right-hander Michael Wacha is scheduled to have another MRI on his right shoulder Monday. If the MRI shows the area is continuing to heal, Wacha will be cleared to begin a throwing program. Wacha has been out since mid-June with a stress reaction in his pitching shoulder.
• The Cardinals continue to work with an eight-man bullpen, though that is expected to change after the team wraps up this series in San Diego. With Justin Masterson set to be added to the 25-man roster on Friday, the Cardinals will have to subtract someone from their 'pen.
Asked if the organization saw a benefit to sending Carlos Martinez down to get regular work in Triple-A, general manager John Mozeliak said that is not being discussed at this time. Martinez hasn't pitched since July 20.
• Daniel Descalso, who was hit near the knee by a pitch during a ninth-inning pinch-hit appearance on Tuesday, was fine a day later and available off the Cardinals' bench.
• Lefty Tyler Lyons posted the best start of his season on Tuesday, throwing a complete game in Triple-A Memphis' win over Omaha. Lyons allowed four hits and one run. He didn't walk a batter.
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.