Poor Shelby Miller. The man has been on a tear this month, and he continued that tear for seven innings against the Giants on Thursday night. Unfortunately, that's when Miller made his first big mistake which turned into a home run from Brandon Belt. Then, Miller exited the game in the eighth inning and the Giants proceeded to run roughshod over Donnie Veal and Brandon Cunniff. When the smoke cleared, the game ended 8-0 San Francisco. Yikes.
Despite last night's bummer of a result, Shelby Miller is still looking extremely solid on the mound this year; So much so that many people (including USA Today) are going so far to say that Miller has already taken the title of ace for the Atlanta Braves. However, if you let pitching coach Roger McDowell tell it, he knew all along that this was going to be the case.
The Braves acquired nine starting pitchers in offseason trades and three could end up in the rotation as soon as 2016, or perhaps 2017 when the club moves into its new stadium. The organization, said general manager John Hart, took a step back from trying to play the part of the contender, and focused on its foundation. The Braves hunted controllable young pitchers and made significant deals because they had valuable corner outfielders to trade: Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis.
The prize, so far, is Miller, who is in bloom.
"After he threw several times in spring training for Roger McDowell (pitching coach), Roger said to me, 'John, that's our future No. 1'," Hart said. "You could see the talent, but the separator was the intangibles. This guy is not a finished product yet."
I told you that this was the Shelby Miller minute. If the previous article was the "point" on Shelby Miller, then consider this article the "counterpoint." Our friends over at Beyond the Box Score are convinced that while Shelby Miller has pitched really well so far this season and seems to be on pace to drastically improve after a turbulent 2014 season, we should really dial down any Cy Young talk that's floating around.
As you can see, Miller isn't in the top ten in any categories besides ERA and innings pitched. So far, he hasn't struck out a lot of batters, and his walk rate is slightly above the league average (7.7%). His home run rate is low, partly due to his 50.3% ground ball rate, the highest of his young career. However, Miller also has a 5.8% HR/FB rate, suggesting that his early home run suppression may not be sustainable.
By FIP and fWAR, Miller has been one of the better pitchers in the National League, but he is still well behind the top pitchers in the league. Since 2000, no Cy Young Award winner (in either league) has finished outside the top ten in fWAR, and only one (Eric Gagne in 2003) has finished outside the top five. Miller will have to pitch even better than he has so far this year in order to be within striking distance of the league leaders in FIP and fWAR.
A while back, we told you that UGA 5-star football recruit Terry Godwin was going to give this baseball thing a try before presumably sticking to the pigskin. As it turns out, the kid actually made an impressive showing at the Braves pre-draft camp, and has also drawn the interest of other teams across baseball. There's a good chance that one team's going to take a flier on Godwin in the upcoming draft, but again, I think he'll probably stick to catching oval-shaped balls in the fall.
Billion International Trading is a California-based wholesaler who sells hats to retailers. Unfortunately, some of those hats that they sold to a retailer here in Atlanta turned out to be counterfeit hats from China, and now the company is in big trouble. A federal court here has forced the company to pay $700,000 in fines, though the company has apparently made no efforts to pay the fines because people like to be petty about this stuff. Also, as an avid sports logo/uniform nut, let me remind you: Don't buy counterfeit stuff. The fakes are so obvious, and you'll look foolish in front of people who have a good eye for that type of stuff. Buy the real thing: You'll look good and feel good, too.
Although the Rangers lost 5-1 to the Red Sox yesterday, Josh Hamilton received a warm welcome from the home crowd as the outfielder made his return to Texas. Hamilton immediately paid back the support of the fans by doubling to right field. All in all, it was a nice moment for both Hamilton and the fans in Texas who are obviously glad to see him back.
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Meanwhile, the reigning AL Cy Young winner is still in strong form. Corey Kluber was in strikeout-mode once again, and the Seattle Mariners were the victim. Cleveland's ace struck out 13 Mariners during a 5-3 victory. For most people, 13 Ks in one game is a nice performance. For Kluber, it's starting to look normal (his K/9 is currently 11.27), which is scary.
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There's been a rumor floating around that the Cardinals are interested in picking up Ryan Howard (who, admittedly, is having a relatively decent year so far). St. Louis is dealing with an injury crisis of sorts at 1st base, and naturally, national writers figured that the Cardinals would try to bring Howard home to St. Louis. Our friends at Viva El Birdos aren't having it, hough.
Finally, while Howard has definitely had a good power-hitting start to the 2015 season (.263 ISO), he has produced 0.5 fWAR. Reynolds, too, has been worth 0.5 fWAR thus far, and this is with 63 less plate appearances than Howard. As I stated earlier, ZiPS projects Reynolds to be worth 0.5 fWAR the rest of the season. Howard? 0.3 fWAR. If the point is to replace what is missing, taking a step backward with the replacement is illogical.