Shelby Miller forced to exit start with back tightness


Despite his relatively young age, St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller has been a well-known commodity for a number of years. As one of the top young pitchers in all of baseball, there were sky-high expectations for the 23-year-old heading into the 2014 season, but heading into Tuesday night’s start against the Colorado Rockies, Miller’s performance had been somewhat underwhelming from a statistical standpoint. Then, things took another negative turn, as he was forced to exit his start early as a result of back tightness.

Prior to leaving the mound, Miller struggled mightily, allowing six hits, three runs and a startling five walks over just 2.2 innings of work in Colorado. Coors Field plays tricks on many pitchers, but with the right-hander entering with some shaky peripherals (4.67 FIP, 4.05 BB/9), this performance wasn’t entirely out of line with his established base line from this season. Still, Miller looked to be noticeably laboring prior to his exit, and the quick diagnosis of back tightness is revealing.

The Cardinals have a sterling reputation for managing young pitchers, but with the recent injury woes of Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia, St. Louis suddenly finds themselves searching high and wide for healthy arms. The full diagnosis of Miller’s back issue remains to be seen, but if he is forced to miss a start, the Cardinals will likely be looking at the need to dip into their much heralded farm system for a spot start. Stay tuned.