Shelby Miller toes the rubber tonight against the Rockies carrying a respectable 4-2 record (that could be better considering how well he pitched in his 2 losses) with a minuscule ERA of 1.96. To further appreciate how successful he has been so far this season for the Cardinals, let’s take a look at where he was less than one year ago…
At 3:51 PM on June 5, 2012, @ShelbyMiller19 took to twitter and assured his followers, “It will turn around,” followed by “Home runs will kill. Giving up to[sic] many. Eliminate those. And we start rollin.” Prior to these two tweets, he pitched 5 innings against the Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals Triple-A Affiliate) in which he gave up 2 home runs and saw his ERA balloon to a gaudy 5.18. This was far from what was expected from him since he was considered by national scouts as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.
His next start, on June 11, 2012, could have broken him down, could have lead to the demise of another promising arm. He was only able to get through 4 innings against a team that was 15 games under .500 and gave up 2 more home runs while allowing 6 earned runs (ERA now at 5.72). A mere 21 year-old kid was struggling for the first time, and the beloved Cardinal Nation, which can be a player’s biggest fan but also biggest critic, wanted to give up on him. They wanted Mozeliak to deal him for a reliever to fill a present need–disregarding the fact that just months earlier, they were clamoring about how he was the future ace of the pitching staff.
With the way technology is today, fans are a mere 140 characters away (the maximum amount allowed per tweet) from being in contact with professional athletes, and I am 100% sure that Shelby was reading these temper-filled messages from the fans. He did not give up, though, tweeting on July 22, 2012: “Great pen today #CardinalNation.” He followed with a solid outing in which he pitched 7 innings allowing just 2 earned runs.
September call-ups were just a month away, and he was most likely going to get his opportunity then, and he did. It was his chance to leave an impression on the front office. He was used in 5 relief appearances before finally getting his first start on the last day of the season against the Central Champs–the rival Reds. He completely stifled them: pitching 6 scoreless innings of 1-hit baseball with 7 strikeouts. He got his chance, and despite his continuous struggles in Triple-A leading to parts of Cardinal Nation calling for him to be traded, he made the most of it. The coaching staff felt confident enough to put him on the playoff roster against the Giants, but we won’t go there (Yes, I am still bitter about that series).
Thus, it seems like Shelby Miller is finally living up to his hype. I realize it is a small sample size (only 6 starts), but I can only see him getting better, especially with veteran pitchers like Wainwright and Westbrook to mentor him throughout the season. If (and most likely when considering he is just a rookie) he starts experiencing some struggles, he will be much better prepared to handle them considering all that he has already dealt with in his young career.
In the meantime, LET’S GO BLUES!
Until next time…