Could Shelby Miller be this year’s surprise pitching star? Perhaps even steal the Cy Young Award away from Kershaw? So far he’s made quite the name for himself in Atlanta.
I talked about how he was emerging as the Braves’ new ace and how, in my opinion, the Braves have gotten the better side of the deal when they traded outfielder Jason Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals for Miller.
When the trade first went down it didn’t appear that the Braves were getting the ace that they have gotten. Even though he’d played very well in parts of three seasons with the Cardinals, he struggled from mid-2013 to mid-2014.
He wasn’t expected to be an ace even though he picked things up quite a bit in the second half of the 2014 season.
Through watching more experienced players, Miller learned to integrate and use his sinker more often in games.
Learning to utilize his sinker helped him go deeper into games and on May 5 in Philadelphia he shut out the Phillies, pitching a complete game using under 100 pitches. He was the first pitcher to do so this season.
While the Philadelphia Phillies may not be the most fearsome opponents, that wasn’t why Miller did so well in that game. He did so because he is just that good.
Going into that game Miller was 3-1 with a 2.17 ERA. Afterwards Miller was 4-1 in six starts on the season and had lowered his ERA to 1.66.
He’s made one other start since then on May 11 in Cincinnati. Miller pitched seven innings, received the win and further lowered his ERA to 1.60.
His only loss on the year had been against the Cincinnati Reds in Atlanta but he proved that that game, that he didn’t have a problem with the Reds. Even though the Braves lost by a score of 5-1, Miller still had pitched a quality start going seven innings, allowing just six hits and two earned runs.
Miller has pitched well all season long. Even though it is only May he is really making a name for himself and if he continues on this path he will be a big star. When I first wrote about him I received feedback from readers saying that they had never heard of the 24-year-old right-hander.
After his performance Sunday there won’t be many who can still say that. The Braves are currently in Miami playing the Miami Marlins who have one of the games most famous players and greatest sluggers, Giancarlo Stanton.
Miller got a close to no-hitting the Marlins as one can get on Sunday. He did not allow a hit to Stanton or anyone else until there were two outs in the ninth inning.
Miller easily retired the first two batters of the inning, before surrendering a single to center to Justin Bour on a 95-mph fastball. Dee Gordon followed with an infield single before Shelby got Martin Prado to pop out. He finished the game having pitched a two-hit complete game shutout.
It’s a shame that Miller got so close to a no-no without completing it. It was still his second complete game shutout of the year. This time he threw just 94 pitches, 70 of which were for strikes.
It was the third game in his career that he had gone at least five innings without allowing a hit according to ESPN.
Miller walked just one batter while striking out four in his two hit performance, lowering his ERA to 1.33 in eight starts this season. Could Miller be this year’s Corey Kluber?
With the reining National League Cy Young Award winner, NL MVP and all-around Los Angeles Dodgers’ superstar Clayton Kershaw putting up relatively pedestrian numbers thus far in 2015 it may be possible, assuming that Miller continues to pitch the way he has been, that the National League could find themselves with an unexpected Cy Young Award winner.
It’s still early, but his 1.33 ERA and efficiency in games could lead to an upset of epic proportions in NL pitching. So if you didn’t know who Shelby Miller was on May 5 or until today, you definitely do now. He’s making quite a name for himself with the Atlanta Braves.