Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that the Cardinals have decided to go with Shelby Miller as their fifth starter, choosing the 22-year-old top prospect over Joe Kelly, who did a solid job starting 16 games last season.
Miller was very impressive in a 14-inning September call-up last season after racking up 160 strikeouts in 137 innings at Triple-A and ranks among Baseball America‘s top 10 prospects for the second straight year.
He projects as a potential long-term ace if things go well and has dominant raw stuff, although Miller’s control was iffy last season with 3.3 walks per nine innings and he served 24 homers in 27 starts. Kelly will begin the season in the bullpen and serve as the fill-in if any injuries strike the rotation.
It’s been one issue after the next for Indians reliever Andrew Miller, and on Saturday, the left-hander landed back on the 10-day disabled list with right knee inflammation. According to comments made by club manager Terry Francona, Miller’s knee has been a problem since the start of the year. The team has yet to determine a concrete timetable for his return to the bullpen.
Miller, 33, hasn’t looked like his usual sub-2.00 ERA, 2.0+ fWAR self this season, though he paired a 4.40 ERA and 6.3 BB/9 with an impressive 14.4 SO/9 across his first 14 1/3 innings. A left hamstring strain and minor back injury hampered his effectiveness on the mound, though this appears to be a more serious issue — especially given the five weeks he spent recovering from a tendon injury in his right knee last year.
In corresponding moves, the Indians designated right-hander Oliver Drake for assignment and recalled Triple-A right-handers Ben Taylor and Evan Marshall. Taylor, 25, was working on a 3.63 ERA, 1.0 BB/9 and 11.4 SO/9 through 17 1/3 innings in Triple-A Columbus, while 28-year-old Marshall turned in a terrific 0.77 ERA, 0.8 BB/9 and 6.9 SO/9 over his first 11 2/3 innings. Neither reliever has pitched more than a handful of innings at the big league level in 2018.