Shelby Miller was one of the best rookies in baseball this season, throwing 173 innings with a 3.06 ERA and 169 strikeouts while winning 15 games, but the 22-year-old right-hander was a non-factor for the Cardinals during the playoffs and appeared in just one game as a mop-up reliever.
After the Game 6 loss last night Miller was asked about his lack of a postseason role and told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
There could be something that I don’t know about going on. Maybe I’ll have some understanding in the offseason. I think it’s more they’re just looking out for me, innings-wise. I don’t feel fatigued. I don’t feel tired. I feel really good. There is probably some answer that I don’t know about. I’ll wait to hear it.
That’s a pretty diplomatic, smart answer from a 22-year-old rookie, especially in the wake of his team losing the World Series, but the Cardinals choosing not to utilize Miller at all will certainly be questioned.
General manager John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny have both explained that it was a workload-related issue, as they felt Miller showed signs of fatigue down the stretch. Of course, by the NLCS and World Series part of their reasoning for not using Miller was that he’d gone so long without pitching, which … well, that’s a cycle you can’t break.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.