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Saturday, Sep. 20, 2014

Is Shelby Miller the answer to the bullpen's woes?

Posted Wednesday, June 6, 2012, at 8:13 AM

By COREY NOLES

Before I get started, I need to point out that I can't take credit for this idea. A good friend of mine, Jody Waggoner, recently mentioned it and yesterday in the St. Louis Post-Distpatch, columnist Bernie Miklasz made a brief mention of it as well.

With that being said, the idea really sparked an interest in me, so I decided to do a little digging and expand on it.

The 19th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Shelby Miller is widely considered to be one of the top 10 prospects in all of baseball.

In Class A ball, Miller put up good numbers. In High A ball he didn't do quite as well, but he made up for it in 2011 at Springfield-AA going 9-and-3 with a 2.70 ERA in 16 starts.

He looked good enough in Spring Training this year, to earn a move to AAA Memphis. That transition has been kind of rocky for him. As of Monday night, he is 4-and-4 with a 4.99 in 11 starts.

Over the course of his last five starts he hasn't made it through the fifth inning and in two games he didn't make it past the third inning. In the last 17 innings he has given up 16 earned runs.

He is not ready to be a big league starter. I want to make that very clear.

However, in terms of development, there is only so much more that AAA Memphis has to offer him.

So, here's the suggestion. Bring Miller on up to St. Louis now to pitch from the bullpen. With Kyle McClellan gone, Victor Marte is the only guy capable of throwing multiple innings without being too shaken and has seen a lot of work as a result.

Miller could come up in a long relief role and take some of that strain from Marte, but there are other advantages too.

First and foremost, it would give him some much needed major league experience before a spot in the rotation comes available. While it might sound a little unorthodox, it is really done quite a bit in baseball. It worked well early on for Adam Wainwright and has so far been a healthy route for Lance Lynn to take to the rotation.

If you want more examples, look at Johan Santana (I'm sure Cardinals fans remember him well) and Phil Hughes .

Aside from just getting major league experience, it would be a good move mentally. It is generally believed that he will have a spot in the 2013 rotation and that is not a move the Cardinals are fond of just thrusting guys into. There are a lot of emotional adjustments to making the jump to the big club and it would be nice for him to get those out of the way this year.

Right now, he is in Memphis honing his pitches against AAA talent and will likely require another adjustment period when he gets here (as do most pitchers).

Plenty of pitchers do well going straight to the rotation from the minor leagues, but it seems like an unnecessary hardship in the beginning. Some time to get in the groove from the bullpen, get to know the team, the ins and outs of being a big leaguer certainly can't be a bad thing.

In short, I really think he has hit the glass ceiling at Memphis, despite his recent struggles. Maybe it's the answer and maybe not, but there aren't many better options in Memphis for the Cardinals to look at and something needs to be done.

In the event that a starter goes down or continues to struggle, he would be here and the logical choice to get a few starts in the meantime. In case the subliminal message wasn't strong enough, I'm referring to Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia . Something has to give. Soon.

The answer may very well be Shelby Miller and he could be in St. Louis on a one-hour flight from Memphis.

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On a completely unrelated note -- Did you see the Matt Adams' homerun Tuesday night? What a bomb.

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To submit a question for the Balls & Strikes Mailbag, either e-mail cnoles@dailystatesman.com, call (573)624-4545, or fill out the form at dailystatesman.com/blogs/coreynoles/

Follow him on Twitter @coreynoles


Comments
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Probably not. Probably going to have to go get more pitching at trade deadline. Maybe a starting pitcher and reliever.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Wed, Jun 6, 2012, at 1:06 PM

I wonder just how much longer the Cardinals will give Garcia before they realize he will never reach his potential. Or maybe he just does not have as much potential as they thought.

-- Posted by deadred on Wed, Jun 6, 2012, at 1:42 PM

You must have a really smart friend!

-- Posted by redbirdfan74 on Thu, Jun 7, 2012, at 6:43 PM


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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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