D-backs’ Merrill Kelly ‘likely’ to return vs. Cardinals in upcoming homestand

Jul 21, 2023, 2:55 PM | Updated: 4:14 pm

Merrill Kelly...

Merrill Kelly #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks stands on the mound during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on June 19, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Arizona Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly is trending toward a return to the mound early next week.

Manager Torey Lovullo told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Friday that Kelly is “likely” to pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals at Chase Field during their Monday-Wednesday series.

“We’re gonna get Merrill back here very soon,” Lovullo said. “We just got to check a couple more boxes. When we’ve got Merrill and Zac (Gallen) firing 1 and 2, we feel really good about that.”

Kelly went on the injured list June 27 with right calf inflammation, as he discovered a small blood clot in his lower leg in San Francisco after a start against the Giants.

The D-backs were optimistic the clot was found timely to warrant a shorter IL stint for Kelly.

The veteran RHP rehabbed in the Arizona Complex League en route to his return, as he was scheduled to throw 75 pitches last Saturday.

Kelly put together arguably an All-Star-caliber first half with a 3.22 ERA and 3.85 FIP in 16 starts. The D-backs went 10-6 in games he pitched.

The Diamondbacks have shuffled their pitching staff to fill in for Kelly with a Brandon Pfaadt start and a bullpen game during the stretch.

Arizona lost Zach Davies to the 15-day IL (back) this week, so Kelly’s return comes at a particularly opportune juncture for the rotation.

The D-backs will likely turn to Pfaadt again on Saturday and are mulling another bullpen game Sunday at the Cincinnati Reds.

“We’ve got a fully loaded bullpen and we’ve got extra arms in the bullpen, which might lead to a bullpen day here in Cincinnati,” Lovullo said. “I’m not exactly sure, we haven’t totally mapped it out yet. But we’ve got to be creative.

“When things like this happen, when Merrill Kelly and Zach Davies go down, you got to be creative. And I think we do a really good job of that here.”

The trade deadline is Aug. 1, another opportunity to alter the starting five.

The D-backs turn to Tommy Henry Friday against the Reds at 4:10 p.m.

Tune in on ESPN 620 AM, the Arizona Sports app and 

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