There are only a few teams around Major League Baseball that have everything set in stone for their starting rotation. Among those still uncertain are the St. Louis Cardinals. Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller are battling each other for the final spot. The comparison between the two so far is frankly a bit confusing. The coaching staff would have a tough time picking the winner of the job if the season started today.
Here is the way it stands going into Tuesday’s action. Kelly has more experience from making a fair share of starts last season, sixteen to be exact. He also has the better spring season ERA at 2.25. Looking at Miller’s 5.40 ERA might make this seem like a very easy choice but it isn’t. Look a little closer. Kelly has only one strikeout and a WHIP of 1.75. Miller has four strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.0. Averaging almost one fewer base runner per inning certainly puts things in a different light for Miller.
I think the experience factor is kind of null and void. It’s not that much more experience and plus Miller pitched in the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants. How’s that for experience? Though admittedly he didn’t start, that doesn’t really factor in because neither did Kelly. Here is the key for me. Miller’s WHIP jumped to 1.5 during the postseason against the eventual world champions. Kelly’s also jumped though, to a whopping 2.25.
Though clearly both are capable and also have work to do, I think Miller should win the job. He seems to have a little more presence on the mound in the footage I have seen. I just get a gut feeling that he would perform better every fifth day right now. Either way they go; there are no magic solutions to improving. Both men have work to do to get better.