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.
With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe Jiménez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.
Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.
The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.
Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny Rodríguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.