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.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.