Baseball isn’t always fair, and the sport definitely hasn’t been fair to Atlanta Braves pitcher Shelby Miller these last two months.
Despite being the Braves’ best pitcher – and the team’s only All-Star – Miller hasn’t gotten a win in any of his last 12 starts. That’s just two more winless starts shy of the franchise’s record of 14 in a row, set by Kenshin Kawakami in 2010.
But there’s a huge difference between the two pitchers: Miller is one of the best arms in the National League this season, and Kawakami was clearly lost during his stretch of mediocrity. During this nightmarish stretch, Miller’s biggest issue is that he just can’t get any run support.
Consider this: since Miller’s last win on May 17, the Braves have scored more than three runs just once. He has absolutely no room for error, and in some instances, he doesn’t err at all. In a couple of his starts, Miller has pitched a shutout, only to see his relief pitchers come in and surrender the losing runs.
In nine of his starts, he hasn’t gotten a single run of support, which is the most of any pitcher in the league, according to Fox Sports reporter Kevin Burkhardt.
Since the winless streak started, Miller has fallen from 5-1 to 5-7, and the stats just don’t suggest his record should be that poor.
Despite all of his misfortunes, Miller still has the fourth-best Earned Run Average in the National League through Monday night. His 2.27 ERA could be good enough to make him a legitimate Cy Young Award contender, and it’s better than guys like Kershaw, Scherzer, Harvey and Bumgarner.
Even as Miller approaches a franchise record he doesn’t deserve, he’s keeping his mind right and staying upbeat. And if you’re looking for him to blame his teammates for not giving him any run support, you’re not going to find what you’re looking for.
But after losing five of his last seven starts, you could understand if he got a little frustrated with the outcomes he’s getting after pitching so well.
Photo: AP/Billy Hurst