It’s finally happened. Shelby Miller, the top St. Louis Cardinals prospect, has finally gotten the promotion that he deserves.
Miller was named as the top prospect by Baseball America in both 2010 and 2011. He has the tools to have a nice career in St. Louis. It is true that his season with the Memphis Redbirds was rocky but after the All-Star break, he was able to turn things around.
As Derrick Goold notes, Miller’s August starts have been impressive (5-1 with a 2.89 ERA in six August starts, striking out 53 batters and walking four in 37 1/3 innings). The promotion to St. Louis was not “a ceremonial promotion.”
General Manager John Mozeliak, according to Goold, has “acknowledged that Carpenter would return as a starter if he returns this season.” He added that Shelby Miller or another pitcher could be used as a long reliever on a day when Chris Carpenter takes the mound.
There’s the big question of where he fits in if Chris Carpenter does indeed come back to pitch again this season. Goold looks into all of that. It’s a dilemma, for sure. Does the team go to a six man starting rotation? It’s a “trend du jour with several teams” going into October but at the same time, a start that one of them make is a start that someone else does not.
Including Miller, the Cardinals have four long relievers, including Victor Marte, Trevor Rosenthal, and Lance Lynn. Goold suggests that there will be a fifth added to that list when Carpenter comes back.
Goold looks at the piggyback approach:
The Cardinals have used this approach at the lower levels in the minors to some success. The starters are given a pitch count and it’s their job to get as deep into the game as possible on that pitch count before their handcuffed pitcher replaces him. Four days later, they swap. The Cardinals have viewed this approach as a way to monitor innings/workload and stress economy.
One important thing as the Cardinals plan for a berth to the postseason is where Adam Wainwright fits in. According to Goold, the organization’s preference is for the right-hander to pitch the final game of the season if a postseason berth has not been clinched, the play-in game to advance to the NLDS, or Game 1 of the NLDS. The latter seems unlikely at this point.
Pitching will be key over these next few weeks. The Cardinals need as many quality starts from the rotation to keep the arms fresh in the bullpen.