Cardinals leave Shelby Miller out of NLDS rotation

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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.

Yoenis Cespedes blames a lack of golf for his early season slump

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Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.

It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.

Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:

He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.

“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”

The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.