Cardinals rookie Shelby Miller was one of the best starters in the National League this season, posting a 3.06 ERA in 31 starts while striking out 169 batters in 173 innings and holding opponents to a .234 batting average.
And yet the Cardinals just announced that he’ll spend the entire NLDS in the bullpen, with St. Louis choosing Lance Lynn for Game 2, Joe Kelly for Game 3 and Michael Wacha for Game 4.
Miller is definitely one of the Cardinals’ top four starters and has the raw stuff to dominate any lineup, but he showed some signs of wearing down in September and his 5.32 ERA in four regular season starts against the Pirates no doubt played a part in manager Mike Matheny’s decision. Miller also has some bullpen experience, so Matheny could turn to him for high-leverage spots in the late innings with demoted closer Edward Mujica no longer reliable. Still, not giving him an NLDS start is definitely a bold/questionable move.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.