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Cardinals leave Shelby Miller out of NLDS rotation

Oct 4, 2013, 11:51 AM EDT

Colorado Rockies v St. Louis Cardinals Getty Images

Cardinals rookie Shelby Miller was one of the best starters in the National League this season, posting a 3.06 ERA in 31 starts while striking out 169 batters in 173 innings and holding opponents to a .234 batting average.

And yet the Cardinals just announced that he’ll spend the entire NLDS in the bullpen, with St. Louis choosing Lance Lynn for Game 2, Joe Kelly for Game 3 and Michael Wacha for Game 4.

Miller is definitely one of the Cardinals’ top four starters and has the raw stuff to dominate any lineup, but he showed some signs of wearing down in September and his 5.32 ERA in four regular season starts against the Pirates no doubt played a part in manager Mike Matheny’s decision. Miller also has some bullpen experience, so Matheny could turn to him for high-leverage spots in the late innings with demoted closer Edward Mujica no longer reliable. Still, not giving him an NLDS start is definitely a bold/questionable move.

  1. jarathen - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    I blame Verducci.

  2. stlouis1baseball - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    Wow. I need to get more sleep. I read “roster” in lieu of “rotation.”
    Spitting my damn coffee out in the process. Now…my keyboard is nasty.
    I will leave you now for some much needed clean up.

    • umrguy42 - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      No coffee spit here, but yeah, that’s how I read it at first too.

  3. Todd Boss - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    Hmm. So a team takes the long-view with a young starter’s health who has significantly increased his inning workload from the prior year and showed signs of fatigue down the stretch. The team is purposely heading into the playoffs starting a lesser pitcher in the rotation, despite the fact that it clearly may cost them a chance to advance in this season’s playoffs.

    Oh, i’m sorry, I thought we were vilifying the Washington Nationals for shutting down Stephen Strasburg in 2012 again.

    There is one significant difference between Strasburg and Miller; Strasburg was coming back from an injury and being shutdown on the advice of medical staff, not facing some arbitrary innings limit.

    Looking forward to all the people who criticized Mike Rizzo for making that decision state the same case with this situation.

    • spudchukar - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      Except that isn’t the reason Miller is in the pen. Lynn seems to have righted himself in his last few starts. Miller’s stuff is more conducive to the bullpen than Wacha’s. Kelly has been their second best pitcher this year, and both Kelly and Wacha are more steady mentally, and have a better chance to handle the thunderous crowd in Pittsburgh.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:14 PM

        Don’t sweat it. We all do it. In fact, I think I did it three times just this morning!

    • fearlessleader - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      Relax, Todd Boss. Miller isn’t being “shut down,” and given the circumstances, there’s no reason to think they’ve moved a “lesser pitcher” into the rotation ahead of him.

  4. stlouis1baseball - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    I would not read much into this…

    “September and his 5.32 ERA in four regular season starts against the Pirates no doubt played a part in manager Mike Matheny’s decision.”

    I would read more into this…

    “Miller also has some bullpen experience, so Matheny could turn to him for high-leverage spots in the late innings with demoted closer Edward Mujica no longer reliable.”

    Please know I realize with the Strasburg situation you would like to somehow be vindicated.
    But this isn’t it.

    • paperlions - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      Yeah, this has nothing to do with the Strasburg situation in any way shape or form…they don’t even resemble each other.

      I think the decision is mostly based on who has been pitching the best lately than anything else. Kelly has been a rock, not flashy, but has given them 5-6 innings of shutout or 1-run ball in most of his starts. Lynn has looked much better the last month…and Wacha has looked great when not pitching at Coors field. I still love Miller’s stuff (and he is still just 22), but he’s been erratic, especially away from home…and he has also pitched far more innings than Kelly or Wacha this year.

      To me, this is probably the correct decision….hopefully, Wacha isn’t even required to start a game.

      • spudchukar - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:58 PM

        Sorry guys, I should have read further down before my comment. I just re-iterated what you guys already know and said.

  5. capeporpoise - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    The St. Louis newspaper baseball writers have been anticipating this move for a few days: apparently the thinking is that Wacha’s fastball/changeup repertoire would be more effective against the fastball-feasting Pirate lineup than Miller’s heavier fastball mix.

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