As is tradition around these parts after the season is over, we’re taking a look at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. That’ll range from someone that didn’t record an out to someone that played almost every inning. Treat it like they are stopping by the manager’s office (umm, also imagine this was before the managerial change) on their way home for the winter for a performance review. Stats listed are ones generated during their time with the Cards and the grade is based not only on their performance but on the expectations for them going into the season. As he has the past few years, the legend that is cardinalsgifs has provided our excellent header image!
Player: Justin Miller
Season stats: 1-0, 1 SV, 1 SVO, 4.50 ERA, 18 G, 16.0 IP, 15 H, 2 HR, 5 BB, 9 K, 12 inherited runners, 2 inherited runners scored, 4.98 FIP, 1.250 WHIP, 5.1 K/9, -0.1 bWAR, -0.1 fWAR
Statcast: .407 xwOBA, 9.7 barrel %, 91.7 exit velocity, 43.5 hard hit %, 15.7 K %, 7.2 BB %
Best Statcast category: Fastball Spin (57th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Max Exit Velocity (27th percentile)
Positives: 14 of his 18 appearances were scoreless….ended the season with four scoreless innings….lefties hit .217 with a .530 OPS against him….did not allow a run at Busch Stadium and had a .410 OPS against there….cleanup hitters had a .222 OPS in nine plate appearances….batters hit .174 if they swung at the first pitch….they posted a .182 average if they hit it….retired 15 of 18 first batters, with only one hit and two walks….allowed a .360 OPS when there were two outs in an inning….had a .563 OPS against with runners in scoring position….that dropped to .347 when there were two outs….only had five high leverage plate appearances but hitters went 0-4 with a walk in them….had a 2.84 ERA on two days’ rest….the Cubs went 1-8 with two strikeouts against him….pitched one scoreless inning against the Brewers….had a 1.74 ERA in night games.
Negatives: Had two stints on the injured list and was designated for assignment before the playoffs, though that did allow him to stay in the system….allowed two runs in each of the four games he allowed runs….righties got him for an .866 OPS and both the home runs….had an 8.31 ERA and a .973 OPS away from the Arch….had a 7.04 ERA in July….third-place hitters went 3 for 9 with a homer….batters hit .306 if they took the first pitch….if the batter was ahead they put up a 1.127 OPS….allowed a .286 average to lead off an inning….had a 6.75 ERA in the seventh inning….pitched once on no rest and gave up three hits including a homer in five plate appearances….had a 9.53 ERA in six day games.
Overview: There’s a line in the first season of Friends when Rachel, who has run into a high school classmate, says “In high school I was the prom queen and I was the homecoming queen and the class president and you… were also there.” That kind of summarizes Justin Miller this season. In a bullpen with flame throwers like Giovanny Gallegos and mysteries such as Alex Reyes, with veterans like Andrew Miller and young guys like Kodi Whitley, Miller didn’t really do much to be more than “the other Miller”. Being hurt didn’t help, of course. He missed about a month from mid-August to mid-September and then missed the last week of the season as well. When you don’t make it to a team until the Fourth of July, missing five weeks really cuts into your impact. He wasn’t often in a big situation but he did come through more often than I had the impression he did before digging into the splits. That might be in part because the defense bailed him out, but whatever the reason, his time in St. Louis wasn’t a complete failure. It was just sort of meh.
Outlook: As Jeff Jones noted on Twitter, Miller being off the 40-man but under team control means that he doesn’t have to go to arbitration the way the current CBA is written. (Whether that will change is, of course, up in the air.) I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see him again at some point in 2022 and perhaps see if he can handle bigger responsibilities. If not, it’s an easy removal from the 40-man as there’s nothing really committed to him.