The appearances and numbers to go with them are quietly rounding back to expectation for Andrew Miller and the St. Louis Cardinals. Since allowing four runs to the San Diego Padres on April 6th, the left-hander has seen his ERA continue to drop while his strikeouts have been on the rise.
Over his last 23 appearances, Miller has struck out 28 batters and allowed five earned runs while opponents have hit .219 against him.
“I think it’s a game of runs, you want to get on a good one and go as long as possible,” Miller said. “I feel like I’ve got a pretty good idea. I’m commanding the ball and throwing pitches I want. I like my chances when I can do that.”
In his last three appearances, Miller has struck out Kyle Schwarber looking, induced Kris Bryant into a groundout, struck out Anthony Rizzo, struck out Joey Votto, walked Rizzo, struck out both Javier Baez and Wilson Contreras.
“Executing,” Miller explained. “It’s probably the cliché you don’t want to hear necessarily, but it’s true. Even the times I fall behind, they’re purposeful pitches. They’re pitches that make sense and more of a tip of the cap to the hitter. I’ve got confidence I can pitch from any count and throw both of my pitches to a whole bunch of different spots. I feel good and like I said, the main thing is when you get on a run you want to ride it out as long as possible.”
Rizzo has a pair of hits and five strikeouts in his last 10 at-bats against Miller, while Votto is 1-6 with a pair of punch outs.
“He’s a great hitter,” replied Miller when presented with his numbers against Votto. “You never want to get too confident, especially against somebody who has the track record he does. He’s always an interesting at-bat because he covers everything. In one instance he could be pulling the ball and in the next he can go look the other way–just one of the best hitters of our generation. You do what you can to try and get him out.”
The Miami Marlins only have three left-handed hitters, with Rosell Herrera being a switch-hitter, so Miller may not have his number called frequently in this series. But with 22 combined games left against Chicago and Cincinnati, not too mention another nine against Christian Yelich and Milwaukee, Miller being on top of his game will be crucial for the Cardinals.