The St. Louis Cardinals enter Spring Training without their ERA leader of a year ago, Kyle Lohse who remains unsigned despite a 2.68 ERA and 16-3 record and former CY Young winner, Chris Carpenter who may be forced to retire after lingering nerve issues.
The possibility remains that the Cardinals will re-sign Lohse who remains on the market because teams are reluctant to give up a first round draft pick to sign him after he was classified as a type-A free agent. However, the Cardinals could turn to a cheaper in-house option like Shelby Miller to occupy one of those spots in the Red Birds rotation.
Miller has been the top pitching prospect in the organization for the last few years and after a rocky first half to his 2012 season settled in nicely in the second half before earning a promotion to the big league club in September when rosters expanded. In his first career start, Miller tossed six shutout innings vs. the Cincinnati Reds while giving up a single hit and striking out seven.
During the postseason, Miller saw action working out of the bullpen but his arsenal of a mid-90’s fastball, devastating curveball and an improving change-up will make him a potential ace in the rotation.
The 22-year old Houston native will be a fixture in the Cardinals rotation for years to come and should combine with Adam Wainwright to form one of the best one-two combinations in the National League Central for years to come provided they both remain healthy.
Giving the ball to Miller every fifth day will provide comparable if not better results than Carpenter at this stage of his career, and while he may not produce on the level of Lohse in 2013, he is 12 years younger and millions upon millions of dollars cheaper.
With an opportunity to be a starter for the entire season, Miller could be the front-runner to win the Rookie of the Year award in the National League and win 15 games.
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