Shelby Miller

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Shelby Charles Miller (born October 10, 1990) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball (MLB). Miller made his major league debut in 2012 with the St. Louis Cardinals and has also played for the Atlanta Braves.

Drafted by the Cardinals out of Brownwood High School in the first round of the 2009 MLB draft, Miller became one of the sport's highest-rated prospects. He is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Cardinals' minor league pitcher of the year in 2010, Baseball America' s number one Cardinals prospect from 2009–11, and selection to the All-Star Futures Game in 2010 and 2011. A fourth award, MLB.com's Pitching Performance of the Month, was the result of his first MLB complete game shutout in May 2013, a one-hitter against the Colorado Rockies.

After the 2014 season, the Cardinals traded Miller to the Braves. In 2015, Miller was named to the MLB All-Star Game. That offseason, the Braves traded Miller to the Diamondbacks.

Amateur career

Miller was born in Houston, Texas, and attended Brownwood High School in Brownwood, Texas. He played for the school's baseball team as a pitcher. In his sophomore year, he threw a no-hitter and helped lead his team to the regional semifinals. [3] As a junior in 2008, Miller threw three no-hitters in consecutive games, including one perfect game. [3]

In Miller's senior year, he pitched to a 10–2 win–loss record with a 1.90 earned run average (ERA), and recorded 153 strikeouts in 772 3 innings pitched, with his fastball recorded as fast as 97 miles per hour (156 km/h). He drew comparisons to fellow Texas power pitchers Nolan Ryan and Josh Beckett. [4] In addition to baseball, he played tight end and defensive end for the school's American football team. [5] He played quarterback until the seventh grade, when he suffered a staph infection, allowing Casey Pachall to win the role. [6] Miller committed to attend Texas A&M University on a scholarship to play college baseball for the Texas A&M Aggies baseball team. [7]

Professional career

Draft and minor leagues

The St. Louis Cardinals selected Miller in the first round of the 2009 Major League Baseball draft. [8] Rather than attend Texas A&M, Miller signed with the Cardinals, receiving a $2.875 million signing bonus on the August 17 deadline. The Cardinals assigned him to the Quad Cities River Bandits of the Class A Midwest League, where he made two appearances. [9] He returned to Quad Cities for the 2010 season, where he compiled a 7–5 win-loss record, a 3.62 ERA, 140 strikeouts and 33 walks in 1041 3 innings pitched. [10] [11] During the season, he appeared in the All-Star Futures Game. [12] [79] He was named the Cardinals' minor league pitcher of the year after the season. [13]

Miller began the 2011 season with the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League (FSL). He was named the Cardinal Nation pitcher of the month for May 2011 after posting a 2.32 ERA for the month, and was promoted to the Springfield Cardinals of the Class AA Texas League at the beginning of June. At the time of his promotion, he led the FSL with 81 strikeouts, and was considered the best pitching prospect in baseball by Keith Law of ESPN.com. [14] [15] Along with Carlos Martínez, Miller represented the Cardinals at the 2011 All-Star Futures Game. [16] He made Baseball America 's top prospect list in the 2011 midseason. [17] The Cardinals named Miller their minor league pitcher of the month for June 2011. [19] He pitched to a 9–3 win-loss record with a 2.70 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 862 3 innings pitched with Springfield. [20] Miller totaled 25 starts with Palm Beach and Springfield, completing 1391 2 innings and allowing a 2.70 ERA, 112 hits, 53 walks, and striking out 170 batters for an average of 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings pitched (K/9). [21] After the season, Baseball America rated his fastball as the best in the Cardinals system, and named him a starting pitcher on their 2011 Minor League All-Star team. [5] He was again named the Cardinals' Minor League Pitcher of the Year. [20]

Miller entered the 2012 season ranked as the fifth best prospect in baseball by MLB.com. [10] After competing for a spot on the Cardinals roster, he began the 2012 season with the Memphis Redbirds of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League (PCL). [20] Though he struggled in the beginning of the 2012 season, pitching to an ERA above 6.00 through the beginning of July, Miller pitched to an ERA below 3.00 for the remainder of the minor league season, [4] and recorded 160 strikeouts for the Redbirds in 137 innings pitched. [24]

St. Louis Cardinals

2012 season

Miller made his MLB debut on September 5, 2012, against the New York Mets, as a relief pitcher. He threw two shutout innings, giving up one hit, walking none, and striking out four. [4] Amidst the Cardinals' competition for a playoff spot, Miller recorded his first major league win as a reliever in an extra inning game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 16. [4]

Miller started his first major league game on October 3, against the Cincinnati Reds. Miller pitched six shutout innings, allowing only one hit, and striking out seven. He appeared twice in relief for the Cardinals during the 2012 National League Championship Series (NLCS) against the San Francisco Giants, allowing four hits and two runs in 31 3 innings. [27] For the season, Miller completed 1532 3 innings combined in the major league regular season, postseason and minor leagues. [28]

2013 regular season

Miller made the Cardinals' Opening Day starting rotation for the 2013 season, [27] following a spring training competition with Joe Kelly for the final spot in the rotation. [24] He threw his first career shutout in a 3–0 win against the Colorado Rockies on May 10, 2013. [4] After allowing a bloop single to Eric Young, Jr. to begin the match, Miller pitched the equivalent of a perfect game by retiring the next 27 batters in a row. He threw 113 pitches, 84 for strikes. He walked none, striking out a career-high 13, which tied the Cardinals' rookie record, also held by Dick Hughes and Scipio Spinks. It was the closest a Cardinals' rookie came to throwing a no-hitter since Bud Smith performed the feat in 2001. [4] [4] [5] His Game Score of 98 was the highest ever for a nine inning game thrown by a Cardinals pitcher. Miller's season performance vaunted him as an early Rookie of the Year award favorite. [5] He won the Pitching Performance of the Month award for May because of his one-hit game on May 10. He had a 2–1 win-loss record, walking only six and striking out 32 for the month, while leading the NL with a 1.82 ERA. [84]

The shortest start of Miller's career occurred in an August 7 start against the Los Angeles Dodgers. On the second pitch of the game, a line drive off Carl Crawford's bat glanced struck Miller's right elbow. He was removed from the game at that point. Follow-up x-rays were negative and the injury was characterized as an elbow contusion. [5] His ERA to that point in the season was 2.89 and he averaged 9.8 K/9. [5] On September 11, Miller continued his dominance over the Milwaukee Brewers, allowing five hits and striking out four in 62 3 innings. [5] Despite Miller picking up his 14th win on September 15, his ERA from August 1 until that point was 3.60, raising it 3.19 for the season. [5] In Miller's final start of the season, he won his 15th game, defeating the Washington Nationals. In turn, Jordan Zimmerman was denied his 20th victory. [5] As teammate Adam Wainwright defeated the Chicago Cubs in his final start of the season on September 28, 2013, he tied Zimmerman for the league lead in wins. [5] Miller's 15 wins tied for sixth and his 3.06 ERA was tenth in the NL. [28]

2013 postseason

Although Miller was on the roster for all three series in the Cardinals' 2013 postseason run, manager Mike Matheny did not place him in the starting rotation. Instead, he totaled a single inning in one relief appearance against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2013 National League Division Series (NLDS), in which he gave up one home run. [5] Matheny rebuffed the suggestion that he was a "misspent asset" on the 25-man roster. He specified that, "He's going to be a guy we’re going to use if we get into a situation where we’ve got a bunch of innings to eat up, whether it's at the front end or back. He's going to be our guy (if) we have to put things together." [6]

After losing the World Series in six games to the Boston Red Sox, Matheny and general manager John Mozeliak explained that Miller's role was as "insurance." In just one game until Michael Wacha's final start – which was the final game of the year – did a starter go less than five innings. Miller also became less effective as the season progressed late, with his strikeout rate decreasing and walk rate increasing. Said Matheny, "It would have to be a situation where we were pushing into a tight spot, and that's just not fair to him without having much action to this point. He's been exactly what we’ve needed up to this point. Fortunately we haven’t needed that long outing." Mozeliak added that "second-guessing the roster doesn’t have traction. His role was always that insurance. There were a lot of question marks as we were going into this on exactly how our rotation was going to unfold. The fact that everybody has stepped up changed the dynamic." [6]

After the season, Baseball America named Miller to their All-Rookie team as a starting pitcher. [209] He finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting. [6]

2014 season

Having struggled with walks, command, and mechanical inconsistencies the first two months of the 2014 season, Miller added a sinker to his repertoire with the help of Justin Masterson and defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 5–0 in a complete-game shutout, his first of the season and second of his career. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, faced 30 total batters while striking out five and enjoyed much more consistent command. [6] [6] He finished the season with a 3.74 ERA in 31 games started. [12] Miller pitched Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS, which the Cardinals won, [6] and Game 4 of the 2014 NLCS, where he struggled, failing to complete the fourth inning. [6]

Atlanta Braves

On November 17, 2014, the Cardinals traded Miller and prospect Tyrell Jenkins to the Atlanta Braves for outfielder Jason Heyward and relief pitcher Jordan Walden. [12] On May 5, 2015, Miller threw a complete game shutout in just 99 pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies. [6] Twelve days later, Miller was one out away from throwing a no-hitter against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park when pinch hitter Justin Bour singled to break up the bid. Miller settled for a two-hit shutout, beating the Marlins 6–0. After the game, he improved to a 5–1 record and 1.33 ERA. [7]

Miller was selected to his first All-Star Game via the player balloting. His ERA up to that point was 2.07, which was the third lowest in all of baseball. [4] However, Miller didn't appear in the game at all. The two-hitter against the Marlins would serve as Miller's last win until his final start of the season, on October 4, when he pitched eight innings in a shutout effort against the St. Louis Cardinals. [7] Miller set a new franchise record winless streak of 24, [7] despite quality starts in fourteen of those games. [7] His ERA during the streak was 3.83, and was marred by a rocky September, in which he recorded a 7.11 ERA. [7] Until the October 4, 6–0 win against his former team, Miller's run support was at 2.3 runs per nine innings, ranking him third on a list of worst run support compiled since 1975. [7] He finished the season with 2.6 runs of support per nine innings, a 6–17 record, 3.02 ERA, and 173 strikeouts. [7] A run support average of 2.38 ranked tenth worst in MLB history. [7]

Arizona Diamondbacks

On December 9, 2015, the Braves traded Miller and Gabe Speier to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte, and Aaron Blair. [7] Following the trade, Miller agreed to a contract worth $4.35 million. [8] Before the 2016 season began, Miller was projected to follow ace Zack Greinke in the rotation. [8] He struggled once the season began, [8] and was placed on the disabled list on May 24 due to a sprained index finger, making his return on June 20. [8] Miller pitched to a 2–9 record and a 7.14 ERA through the MLB All-Star break, when the Diamondbacks optioned him to the Reno Aces of the PCL. [8] Miller was recalled to start against the San Francisco Giants on August 31. He pitched five innings, yielding two runs on six hits. [8] Miller finished the season with a 3-12 record and a 6.15 ERA, pitching 101 innings in 20 starts. [84]

On April 23, 2017, Miller was taken out of the game after being diagnosed with an apparent elbow injury. The next day, on April 24, Miller was put on the 10-day disabled list. After MRI tests, it was revealed that Miller's right elbow was diagnosed with a strained flexor strain and a partially torn UCL. On April 29, Miller announced that he would have Tommy John surgery, therefore ending his 2017 season. [8] He officially underwent the surgery on May 10. [8] Miller started four games, with a 2-2 record and 4.09 ERA in 22 innings. [84] Due to Swanson's top prospect status, Inciarte's All-Star nod, Miller's extremely underwhelming 2016 season and Miller's season-ending injury in 2017, the trade has been panned as one of the worst in recent memory. [8] [9] [9]

Pitching style

Whereas most starting pitchers utilize a fastball, a changeup, and a breaking ball, such as a slider or a curveball, Miller throws a fastball and curveball over 98% of the time. His fastball averages 94 miles per hour (151 km/h). [9]

Awards

Major leagues
Minor leagues
  • Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Year (2010, 2011) [13] [20]
  • Baseball America Minor League All-Star team (2011) [5]
  • MLB.com Top 50 prospects (2012, #5), (2013, #25) [21]
  • Baseball America Top 100 Minor League Prospects (2009, #50), (2010, #13), (2011, #8), (2012, #6) [65]
  • Baseball America Top Cardinals prospects (2009, #1), (2010, #1), (2011, #1), (2012, #2) [65]
  • Baseball America Cardinals' system Best Fastball (2009–11) [65]

Personal life

Miller has three sisters. [9] His father, Mitch, is a member of the Brownwood Fire Department in Miller's hometown. Shannon Stone, a friend of the family and member of the Brownwood Fire Department, died at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in 2011 when he reached for a ball tossed into the stands by Josh Hamilton and fell. [67]

Miller proposed to his girlfriend of two years, Amy Peters, on September 5, 2013. They were married on November 16, 2013. [9] He is close friends with his former Cardinals teammate, Joe Kelly; they served as best man at each other's wedding in the 2013 offseason. [9]

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