As you all know, pitching is my favorite part of fantasy baseball and baseball in general. It’s as overpoweringly addictive to me as gasoline is to the leather-clad gangs in The Road Warrior. Now I most certainly don’t have any ass-less chaps, but I was on the edge of my seat watching some of thee performances, I’m not gonna lie mainly Chris Sale last night, just because he’s on many of my teams and I was on vacation over the weekend…
There were a lot of comments last week asking for a Shelby Miller breakdown, and as probably everyone knows (spoiler alert! Wait it’s in the title. Don’t look at the title…) all he did was go out and throw a 1-hitter. So I went back to watch the tape and break down the start for all you loyal pitcher profile fans:
First Inning: Miller’s first pitch is a 93 MPH fastball on the outer edge for strike one taking to Eric Young, Jr. Miller relies a lot on that fastball, so look for that velocity to amp up a few ticks. Miller then spikes a 95 MPH heater for ball 1, then barely misses the outer black at 94, 2-1. Miller is again outside, then a 93 MPH fastball on the hands breaks Young’s bat and it bloops between second and right field for a single. Wasn’t well hit, but Miller was hoping to keep that outside and he missed inside. Miller paints the outside corner to Dexter Fowler at 93 for strike one, then misses low at 93. All fastballs through seven pitches. Miller then at 94 paints the outside corner to get a swing-and-miss, 1-2, Fowler spoils the next one, then Miller at 95 MPH misses high. Now 10 pitches all heaters. Miller then misses outside with a change-up, and Young steals 2nd (base runners now 5-5 against Miller). Now 3-2, no outs, runner in scoring position. Miller dials up a 95 MPH fastball low and on the hands and Fowler pops out in the infield for the first out. Hard to believe Miller went from 11 pitches, nobody out, and a runner at scoring position to start this. He starts Carlos Gonzalez with a fastball outside, then again outside at 95 and gets the call, 1-1. Miller again at 95 paints the higher inside corner, 1-2. Working both sides of the black now. Then a 94 MPH fastball, still inside but more over the plate, is taken for strike three. With 15 of 16 pitches now fastballs, I don’t know what CarGo was looking for. Miller starts Troy Tulowitzki with another painting fastball at 95 on the outside corner, 0-1. There’s a curveball, at 81-MPH, that sharply bites 2-8, that’s taken for strike two. Then Miller at 95 MPH, catches the outside corner again and gets Tulo to strike out looking. That would’ve been tough to hit anyway, and, as Bud Lite would say, “here we go” through 8 hitless.
Second Inning: First offering to Wilin Rosario is a 93 MPH fastball right down the middle taken, then a 78 MPH curveball breaking from the inside edge to the outside edge stays in the zone taken for strike two. If MIller gets a fastball on you then can follow with that, yikes. The 0-2 is a curveball that goes from the outside corner to way outside and on the ground, then misses outside with a fastball, 2-2. Miller then goes back to the curve that stays up a bit too much and Rosario lines it to center but caught pretty easily. Miller’s first pitch to Todd Helton is a fastball popped back, then a fastball is outside, then back in the zone, 1-2. Miller spikes a fastball at 95 MPH, then a 94 MPH fastball on the hands gets Helton to swing-and-miss for his 3rd K. Miller hangs a curveball too high, 1-0 to Nolan Arenado, then bends one in there, 1-1. The next pitch is a 95 MPH fastball on the outside corner that Arenado hits pretty hard to short, but Pete Kozma is able to field and throw it to first, but it pulls Allen Craig off first however Craig is able to tag Arenado to end the inning. Could’ve easily been a hit or error there.
Third Inning: With a run of support, Miller gets halted from warming up by the umpires it looks like. Then a trainer comes out of the dugout with a cup of water or something and Miller chugs it and heads back to the mound. Weird, literally never seen that before. But all is back to business, and Miller starts the 3rd with a 91 MPH fastball low to Josh Rutledge, then a fastball is grounded very sharply to David Freese, but Freese drops to one leg, sticks it, and gets him out at first. Miller gets ahead of Jon Garland with a 91 MPH fastball for strike one, then Garland fouls one back, then Miller climbs the ladder at 92 and gets Garland to swing-and-miss. Oh, to pitch in the NL. Miller dialed it down and still got a three pitch K, his 4th. Miller is outside to Young, then Young fouls one off, 1-1. Miller is again outside, then Young again fouls one off, 2-2. Young fouls again, then a curveball is poked off the end of Young’s bat for a weak grounder to first, inning over.
Fourth Inning: Miller gets a second run of support on a Beltran solo shot, and starts Fowler with a 91 MPH fastball outside, 1-0. Miller gets a change-up over at 84, haven’t seen but I think one other of those, then gets Fowler to foul tip a fastball, 1-2. Then a fastball at 93 MPH gets a tad of tail to the outside and gets Fowler to miss, 5 Ks. Gonzalez tries to bunt the first Miller pitch this time and bunts foul, 0-1, then a nice curveball at 77 MPH dips too low, 1-1. Nice pitch there despite not getting a bite. Gonzalez then fouls two off, and the announcers claim this is the best Miller’s curveball has looked all year. I’ve watched one other Miller start vs. my Brewers and he just blew the Crew away with heaters, so I would agree. Miller misses barely outside and low at 94, 2-2, then after Gonzalez fouls another two off, he paints the high inside corner at 94 for strike three looking. Miller starts Tulo with a 93 MPH fastball very high that Tulo looked completely fooled on swinging at. Miller is low, then just outside, 2-1. Miller hangs a curveball, 3-1, then a 78 MPH curveball barely hangs onto the outside corner and Tulo almost threw his bat taking the walk but it’s full. Nice pitch there, no way Tulo was looking off-speed, and it broke inside corner to outside corner perfectly. Then Miller paints the same corner with a fastball for strike three, striking out the side for 7 Ks. Very solid Miller could paint that same corner and gets the same call on the black. Tulo starts yelling at the ump and throw his helmet – suffice to say not too happy with those back-to-back strike calls.
Fifth Inning: Miller gets ahead of Rosario with a fastball, then a 94 MPH heater is fouled back, followed by a 95 MPH fastball high, 1-2. Another fastball is flied out pretty lazily to left, one down. Miller misses outside to Helton, then again is too far outside, 2-0. Miller yet again is outside, and falls behind 3-0. Back in there at 91 MPH, then a fastball is fouled back to work it back full. The payoff pitch is a 94 MPH fastball on the lower middle edge and Helton flies it deep to center but it’s caught fairly easily by Jon Jay, two down. Miller gets Arenado to foul the first one back, then another, then Arenado laces one well to center, but it’s caught by Jay charging in to end the inning.
Sixth Inning: The 6th opens with a 92 MPH fastball right down the middle for strike one to Rutledge. I don’t know why the Rockies aren’t hacking on the first pitch. Miller misses low, then Rutledge chases one too high, 1-2. Miller then paints the outside corner at 94 MPH for Miller’s 8th K looking. Easy money there. Pinch hitting is Reid Brignac for the pitcher, who takes a fastball high, 1-0. Miller blows him away on the inside corner, 1-1, then a fastball is outside, 2-1. Miller again blows him away at 93 MPH, Brignac again late, then a pitch is fouled off, with another 2-2 pitch blowing him away at 95 MPH at the letters and Brignac had no chance with that swing. 9 Ks. Miller paints the outside corner on Young, 0-1, then blows him away high at 95 again, 0-2. Then the 0-2 is up to 96 MPH on the hands and Young ground out weakly to first.
Seventh Inning: Starting to set in that this is a fantastic outing with 18 sat down in a row, Miller starts Fowler with a curve that’s fouled off his foot, 0-1, then another fouled back, 0-2. Miller then paints that outside corner at 94 MPH and Fowler is blown away swinging, 10 Ks. Miller again starts with the curveball to Gonzalez and it’s fouled back. Again a curve and it’s grounded weakly to first, two down. Amazing that Miller has a completely new game plan starting with a lot of breaking balls to keep the Rockies guessing. Miller goes back to the heater on the outside edge to Tulo that’s fouled off, 0-1. Maybe first pitch hacking wasn’t a good idea either… Miller then explodes a 96 MPH fastball that Tulo misses, then Miller climbs the ladder at 95 that gets Tulo to foul it back, still 0-2. Miller then paints the outside corner at 96 MPH, gets Tulo looking, probably the best pitch of the night so far. Unhittable. 11 Ks.
Eighth Inning: At 96 pitches, Miller starts Rosario with a front door curveball that nips the inside corner, 0-1. Then again the curveball, a nasty one with sharp movement gets Rosario to swing-and-miss, then the 0-2 is a 94 MPH fastball that Rosario saw coming and hits hard to center, but it’s caught right in front of the warning track. Rosario has had three pretty well hit balls, but just under all of them. 1-1 to Helton is fouled back, 1-2, then Helton fouls the next fastball into foul territory but it stays in play for Holliday to catch it, two down. Back to a first pitch fastball, 93 MPH for strike one, then the next one is grounded lazily to short by Arenado, inning over.
Ninth Inning: At 105 pitches, Miller begins with a curveball that gets Rutledge to ground out weakly to short, one down, one pitch. Miller paints a 93 MPH fastball for strike one to pinch hitter Jordan Pacheco, then again in nearly the same spot, 0-2. Pacheco fouls one back, and the broadcast indicates Miller has never thrown a professional complete game in 78 games. The 0-2 pitch is a 94 MPH fastball that again paints that outside corner for strikeout number 12 looking. 26 in a row. The first pitch to Young is a fastball taken for strike one, then a 94 MPH fastball is fouled back for strike two. The Cardinals fans all on their feet, chanting “Shel-by! Shel-by!” and the 0-2 pitch is a fastball at 95 MPH that paints the inside lower corner for his 13th K looking, 27 in a row, a perfect game after the leadoff single, an utterly masterful performance.
Final Line: W 9.0 IP 113 Pitches 1 Hit 0 Walks 13 Ks Game Score: 98 (I’m going to start adding these)
Final Analysis: Obviously one of the best pitching performances this year. Miller’s game score of 98 is the best this season (Harvey’s one-hitter against the White Sox was a 97, the only difference being 1 additional strikeout for Miller), but having watched both, I would argue Harvey looked more dominant, as he had 4 pitches working vs. 2 for Miller.
Miller is in a class of his own as a rookie pitcher. His fastball is elite; he has the control and command to paint both sides of the plate at up to 96 MPH. His average velocity on the heater this season is 93.2 MPH, but he’s able to ramp it down and up as need be, as seen in the first at bat against Jon Garland in the 3rd where he struck out the opposing pitcher on three pitches never going over 92 MPH.
The curveball was working, but never really looked like a dominant pitch. He can get it over for strikes (like going to it 3-1 on Tulo in the 4th then the 7th inning he started the first two batters with curveballs) and can make it a wipe out pitch, but he didn’t get any Ks using it that way. In fact, every single strikeout this game came via the fastball. Some curveballs were hung high early and one was almost laced by Rosario in the 2nd. However, the delivery is very consistent between both pitches and it looked impossible for the Rockies hitters to lock onto fastball vs. curveball. The change-up was pretty much an afterthought, only used twice (only 1.4% of his pitches this year have been change-ups).
After a rough start last year in the minors, it looks like Miller has everything worked out to put together a really solid rookie season and I think is the best rookie pitcher by far. But valuing Miller against all starters is a bit tricky. Owners probably won’t want to budge unless there’s a great offer, and there’s no way I sell despite some obvious regression coming. He relies so heavily on that fastball that if hitters can lock in on it his second time through the league and the curveball isn’t as on as it was last Friday night, he’s going to have some rough outings. I’m still incredulous that all 13 Ks this last game came via the fastball. I would hold Miller unless some offer blew me away and only buy if an owner for some reason isn’t buying into this ridiculous start. But after this game, I doubt there will be any.