Shelby Miller's 2012 has left him further from the big leagues than he was when spring training began, but last night was a significant step in the right direction.
In what was easily the best start of the season for Miller, the 21-year-old righthander held Albuquerque to one hit (a solo home run by Matt Angle) in five innings. Miller struck out eight and walked three, lowering his ERA with Triple-A Memphis to 5.70.
Miller was skipped for a turn through the rotation so that he could work on his mechanics. On Wednesday night, we saw the results: improved control, a fastball that sat at 92 mph and touched 95 and a more consistent arm slot.
Perhaps just as importantly, Miller was operating under a no-shake rule. The Cardinals told him that he was to throw whatever the catcher signaled. So if catcher Bryan Anderson called for a curveball, Miller no longer had the leeway to shake him off to go back to his fastball. Miller had gotten a little fastball happy earlier this year, so the new rule ensures that he uses his curveball and changeup.
The new approach worked. Miller wasn't particularly fine with his control–his 57.47 percent strike percentage was actually his worst percentage of the season. But with hitters no longer able to focus on his fastball, he was able to dominate anyway.