Shelby Miller, the St. Louis Cardinals' top prospect (before, I guess, Oscar Taveras came around), made his debut in Wednesday afternoon's loss, and perhaps for the first time all season a Cardinals rookie pitcher's velocity was significantly lower than some expected; the stadium gun suggested he was sitting in the high-80s and low-90s in the first inning, before getting up, briefly, to 95 in the second.â†µ
Which is interesting only inasmuch as it happened even as he struck out four New York Mets in two scoreless innings. Miller's velocity wasn't what you might expect out of a top right-handed pitching prospect heavily reliant on his fastball, but his command was exceptional—it took him just 29 pitches to deliver 21 strikes and retire six batters. As you might expect from a pitcher with a recent run of 50 strikeouts to one walk, he knew exactly where his running fastball was running to.
It's just that that might not be what you expected from Shelby Miller, the pitching prospect who's consistently averaged more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings, who has struggled with his control and bucked against his pitching coaches, who at one point earlier this season had the ability to call his own pitches taken away from him.â†µ
Scouting reports change. It's hard to say why or how, sometimes, a power pitcher turns into a control artist or that minor league slugger turns into a light-hitting defense-first shortstop (hi Reid Brignac), but it's worth wondering whether we'll get the Shelby Miller we thought we would for three years—and whether, finally, that will even matter.