Quick now, who’s been the St. Louis Cardinals best pitcher over the first six weeks of 2013? If you said Shelby Miller, it’s probably because you read the headline. Seriously though, this guy has been awesome.
The Cardinals’ starters, one through five, have been fantastic thus far. They’ve combined for a 19-7 record (the bullpen already has five losses), and the worst ERA on the staff belongs to Lance Lynn at 2.72. Now that’s a recipe for success.
Miller has been the best of the bunch through mid May—even better than staff ace Adam Wainright. Through his first six starts, the 23-year-old is 4-2 with a 1.96 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He’s struck out 38 opposing batters in just 36 2/3 innings. It’s absolutely crazy to think back to the end of spring training, when Miller had to perform well in his final preseason start in order to secure the fifth spot in the Cardinals’ rotation.
Interestingly, it was right-hander Joe Kelly that nearly took the spot from Miller. Yes, the same Joe Kelly that has an ERA of 8.44 and has allowed 21 baserunners in 10 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. Who knows how this would have played out if their roles were reversed, but it sure seems like the Cardinals made the right choice.
In a season where top pitcher Chris Carpenter was lost for the year without having thrown a pitch, the Cards have made out quite well so far. The team is currently in first place in the N.L. Central with a 21-12 start—three games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Miller will make his next start at home on Friday against the Colorado Rockies. He’ll be looking to make it seven straight quality outings of allowing three or fewer runs.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)