The St. Louis Cardinals have a real asset in Shelby Miller.
Every year, we hear about the next big thing in baseball. Names like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper get floated around each year. Some of them turn into superstars and some go by the wayside.
After years of hearing about Shelby Miller, the Cardinals are getting their first consistent look at the young right-hander, and they have a lot to be excited about.
While there’s still a relatively small amount of data to draw from, there are some interesting trends to pay attention to. To date, Miller has made four major league starts over 24.1 IP. Here are a few tidbits about what we know so far.
Batters haven't figured him out
So far, batters seem to think he is borderline unhittable.
In 32 major league innings to date, Miller has surrendered only 20 hits—total. Opposing batters are hitting only .175 against the young right-hander. As the Cardinals make their second round through the NL Central teams, some batters will figure him out, but he should still be able to dominate.
As for now, they don't seem to be able to get solid contact on anything he throws. To have surrendered only six runs and one home run overall is quite impressive.
He's definitely a strikeout pitcher
Shelby Miller isn't a contact pitcher. If that's what he's going for, he needs to get blowing baseballs past the hitters.
At this early point in his major league career, Miller has more strikeouts (34) than innings pitched (32). That's a good stat for a young fastball pitcher.
He seems to even have improved his command of his off-speed deliveries, specifically his curveball. He's starting to use it more, but seems to be relying on it more for his kill pitch.
According to Brooks Baseball, he's getting swings on it 52 percent of the time and called strikes 23 percent. That's a higher percentage than his fastball.
When he is looking for contact, which doesn't seem to be often given his 0.91 WHIP, the curveball has become his go-to pitch. His changeup, while he's not throwing it often, is really improving as well.
As good as he looks, just remember, he's still growing as a pitcher. There will be struggles on occasion, but he has what it takes to labor through.
He doesn't seem easily shaken
Possibly the most inspiring thing we've seen from Miller so far is the fact that he seems to keep a level head on the mound.
He's not melting down after a couple of hits or giving up a run. Keeping his focus is a big deal for Miller, and it's good to see him staying in the zone when he's on the mound.
Despite some of the concerns we read about when Miller came out of Triple-A Memphis in 2012, he appears much more mature at this level than I expected this early.
It's normal for young pitchers to have their hiccups, but he seems to have been humbled by his problems at Triple-A. That's good. It's much better to be humbled in Memphis than in a St. Louis playoff race.
For now, he's doing what he needs to do: following his catcher's lead. Yadier Molina understands young pitchers and likely knows their capabilities and quirks better than they do themselves.
Miller seems to understand that and isn't shaking Molina off—not by order this time, but out of respect and a keen understanding of Molina's knowledge of the batters he is facing.
All in all, Miller seems to be living up to the reputation that Cardinals fans couldn't wait to see for the past three years.
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