The last couple of years, I spent the time immediately after the season examining each player that had made an appearance in St. Louis during the season. This series was well received and so I’m bringing this idea back for the 2014 offseason. More summaries than anything, I imagine the player coming into Mike Matheny‘s office and having a short conference before heading home for the winter. Stats are just the ones accumulated for the Cardinals during the regular season.
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Player: Shelby Miller
Season stats: 10-9, 3.74 ERA, 32 games, 183 IP, 160 H, 73 BB, 127 K, 1.273 WHIP, 98 ERA+
Hero/Goat: Hero 6, Goat 5
Overall grade: C+
Positives: Had a great five game stretch from the end of August through his next-to-last start, putting up a 1.09 ERA and a .470 OPS against….neither side hit him all that well, allowing a .235 BA to righties and .238 BA to lefties….pretty even home and away as well, save that he gave up significantly more home runs away from Busch Stadium.
Negatives: Control, control, you must learn control! Had less than a 2.00 K/BB and his 3.6 BB per nine innings was the highest in his career….almost 14% of his hits allowed went over the wall….scuffled in the NLCS, allowing three runs in 3.2 innings in his only start.
Overview: The potential is there. We saw it in that run late in the season, where we saw him average just one walk per game in that five game start. If he limits the walks and keeps the ball in the park, he’s going to be the dominant starter we all expected him to be when he was tearing through the minors.
Of course, those are two big ifs. He can do it, but will he? Whatever approach Derek Lilliquist needs to take to get him to throw strikes, he needs to do it. The big talk during that stretch was that he was using the sinker he learned from Justin Masterson, though the numbers pointed out that it was his curveball he was relying on. Whatever he wants to use, he needs at least one more pitch he can throw for strikes to get batters off that fastball.
We tend to think he should already be there. After all, he’s got two full seasons under his belt now. Why can’t he be more like Michael Wacha, dominating from the get-go? We forget that in his second full season in the bigs, Roy Halladay put up a 10.64 ERA and went back to single A to work things out. Great pitchers don’t necessarily come out of the minors fully formed, though that’s hard to believe when you see folks like Wacha and others. There’s still a lot of reasons to be excited about Mr. Miller.
Outlook: While it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for Miller to be traded for some sort of big bat, it’s not the direction I expect John Mozeliak will be going. Instead, Miller should slide in well behind Adam Wainwright, Wacha and John Lackey in a very strong 2015 rotation.