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Adam Wainwright’s rotation replacement likely Kyle McClellan

San Diego Padres v St. Louis Cardinals

ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Manager Tony LaRussa #10 of the St. Louis Cardinals removes reliever Kyle McClellan #46 also of the St. Louis Cardinals from the game after McClellan gave up back-to-back home runs against the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium on September 18, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Padres beat the Cardinals 8-4. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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The competition to replace Adam Wainwright in the Cardinals’ rotation is still officially humming along, but Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes that Kyle McClellan has all but locked up the job after spending the past three seasons in the bullpen.

Tony La Russa was also full of praise for McClellan, but stopped well short of handing him the gig and added that “we don’t have to decide yet.”

McClellan has allowed just one run in 12 innings this spring and has a 3.23 ERA in 218 career innings, albeit all as a reliever. In fact, he hasn’t started a regular season game in the majors or minors since way back in 2007 at Single-A.

Replacing him in the bullpen will be tough, but Goold suggests that’s unlikely to play a big factor in whether or not McClellan gets the rotation spot because the Cardinals are (smartly) focusing on their starters first and then worrying about relievers.