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July 25, 2014

Raising Aces

Shelby Miller's Fall From Grace

by Doug Thorburn


At this time last year, the National League was being steamrolled by a young Cardinal right-hander whose mid-90s gas and hard-breaking curveball led the way to a 2.79 ERA as the calendar flipped to August. The instant success of Shelby Miller put him on the short list of the game's future kings of the hill, but he faded down the stretch and the Cards kept him out of the rotation (and essentially off the mound) during their postseason run; his lone appearance was a one-inning stint in game two of the NLDS, coming in the eighth inning of a 7–1 ballgame.

It was widely presumed that Miller had simply run out of gas at the end of his longest season as a pro, succumbing to the physical demands of a career-high workload. Expectations were high entering 2014, with a full offseason of rest and a year of experience under his belt, but this season has been a continuous struggle. His woes reached rock bottom in the last couple of weeks, resulting in his being jettisoned to the bullpen; even his initial foray in relief work left much to be desired, with two hits and a walk allowed in his first frame out of the 'pen. In hindsight, Miller has been on a downward spiral since the end of 2013, tainting what had been a very promising introduction to the big leagues.

GS

IP

ERA

K %

BB %

H %

HR %

2013

31

173.3

3.06

23.4%

7.9%

21.1%

2.8%

2014

19

110.0

4.25

15.2%

11.5%

22.5%

2.5%

Miller's batted-ball profile from this season is in line with his performance from 2013. What stands out are strike-zone indicators, which are trending in the wrong direction. Miller is striking out hitters at just 65 percent the frequency of last season and issuing walks at a nearly 50 percent higher clip, causing his strikeout-to-walk ratio to tumble from a three-to-one pace last season to his four-to-three proportion of 2014. Controlling the strike zone has been an issue for Miller all season; even in a three-start stretch from April in which he allowed just one run across the trio of games, the Miller bequeathed 12 free passes across 17 frames.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article The Call-Up: Chris Tay... (07/25)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Raising Aces: Outta No... (07/18)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Raising Aces: The Rabb... (08/01)
Next Article >>
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (07/28)

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