Martinez, Miller swap roles as Shelby tapped to start against Cubs

Martinez, Miller swap roles as Shelby tapped to start against Cubs

Martinez, Miller swap roles as Shelby tapped to start against Cubs

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by JJ Bailey / BaseballStL | @TheJJBailey

KMOV.com

Posted on July 23, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 23 at 5:06 PM

(BaseballStL) — Shelby Miller’s time in the bullpen has come to an end. Mike Matheny announced Wednesday the 23-year-old will be in the rotation when the club heads to Chicago. 

Miller will be sandwiched between Joe Kelly and Adam Wainwright this weekend when the Cards visit the Cubs at Wrigley. 

“I think we accomplished what the goal was from the beginning. Let’s get him some rest and he got it,” Matheny said.  “He’s had a nice little period here to get himself right, strong and feeling good. Now we need to get him out on the mound and watch him get the consistency with the production.”

Miller had struggled so far this season, posting a 7-8 record with a 4.25 ERA. Longevity was an issue- he went seven innings or more only three times in 19 starts- and the brief stint in the bullpen was designed to alleviate it. 

Taking his place in the relief slot is Carlos Martinez. The 22-year-old righty made seven starts, going 2-1 with an opponent batting average of .294 and WHIP of 1.6. 

Matheny talked with Martinez about the move, hoping to get a self assessment from the young pitcher.

“I sat with him and had him tell me what he thought. He hit it right on the mark. It was consistency with his stuff and consistency in the strike zone,” Matheny said. “It’s frustrating I’m sure for a kid that has that kind of stuff not to be able to replicate from inning to inning.”

Martinez had 16 walks in just over 32 innings while starting, often bouncing between moments of brilliance and unpredictability. The Cardinals, while hoping for more, understand many of their assets are still learning the game at the highest level. For the flame-throwing Dominican, complete control will take time.

“It happens really quick for some guys, but they’re very rare. Usually it takes some time and I think it’s the natural progression,” Matheny said. “He’s a 22-year-old with an electric arm that’s still figuring out how to pitch at this level.”

Martinez will likely replace recently optioned Nick Greenwood as the long-relief option in the bullpen for the time being. Matheny did say he could be tapped again for the rotation, but in the interim the team wants him to focus on consistency in his appearances. 

When the schedule thickens and the rotation expands to five starters once more, another Memphis pitcher could get a shot if Martinez isn’t ready. 

“We’ve had a couple other guys who’ve been here. We’ve had younger guys come in. There’s a couple others that we’ve talked about on the doorstep that are in AAA that could come in and start,” he said. “Every guy down there is in that conversation.”

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