On a night when Roy Halladay apologized to Phillies fans for his lackluster performance and informed them that he would be out for the next three months due to shoulder surgery, Cardinals fans were treated to the joys of watching a young ace in the making build off of his already impressive start to his rookie season. The changing of the guard is always a bittersweet moment as the excitement of seeing a new up-and-comer is always tempered by witnessing the end of a legendary career. But it’s just the cycle of things in the world of baseball and, obviously nothing new, as there was a time when Halladay himself was a rookie and we were all watching Dwight Gooden wrap up his time spent in the major leagues. But while the nostalgia of a great career is always nice to pore over, we fantasy folk need to focus on the present and the future and that future is found in Shelby Miller.
Of course Miller is just one of several future aces that we have the privilege of not just watching, but owning as well. Hurlers such as Stephen Strasburg, Matt Harvey, Matt Moore, Jose Fernandez and Tony Cingrani are among some of the most coveted names in the fantasy game right now. Everyone wants them and it’s going to be a constant battle for years to come to get them. But Friday night belonged to Miller as he put on a veritable clinic, en route to one of the most phenomenal performances just short of perfection.
When the Rockies stepped onto the field of play to face Miller, they had some idea of how good he was, but no idea how great he was about to be. They grabbed themselves a bit of false hope right from the start as leadoff hitter Eric Young, Jr. kicked things off with a single on the first pitch he saw. Little did the Rockies know that Young would be the last base-runner they would have for the duration of the game.
Over the next two hours and 35 minutes, the Rockies sent exactly 27 men to the plate only to see each and every one of them return to the dugout, most of them with a look of bewilderment on their faces. Miller really only uses two pitches – a 93 mph fastball and a 79 mph curve – and both were working like a charm. He induced seven ground ball outs, seven fly-outs and notched a whopping 13 strikeouts to complete the closest thing to a perfect game. No walks, no errors, not a single base-runner throughout the night. Miller was a force. Save for Young, no one could touch him all night long.
Equally impressive is where Miller’s overall numbers ended up after this performance. He’s gone to the mound seven times this season, posted five quality starts and now, after this outing, has an ERA of 1.58 with a 51:11 K:BB over 45.2 innings. These are numbers that every fantasy owner dreams about when they’re picking up a young pitcher in the later rounds as that’s what likely happened with him on draft day this year. Keeper league owners are drooling and those who don’t own him are already trying to find some sort of a package deal to acquire his services. Whether he can parlay this into a Halladay-esque career is not yet known, but the longest of journeys starts with a single step. And after this outing, Miller has actually now taken a few.
Now let’s look at the highlights from Friday…
Fantasy Beast of the Day
|Shelby Miller, STL||9.0||0||1||0||0||0||13||0.00||0.11|
Um…duh! Who else did you think…?
|Lyle Overbay, 1B NYY||4-5, 2 R, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI|
|Ichiro Suzuki, OF NYY||3-5, 3 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, SB|
|Ian Desmond, SS WAS||3-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI|
|Jon Lester, SP BOS||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.11 WHIP, 5 K|
|Hisashi Iwakuma, SP SEA||W, 2.57 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 9 K|
Of course, Jon Lester has to throw in his two cents and post a complete-game shutout of his own. He is also having himself a fantastic season on the bump and is looking like an ace in Boston. Had I known just how amazing an effect John Farrell would have on this pitching staff, I probably would have snagged Lester and teammate Clay Buchholz for cheap as well instead of having to listen to the Boston homer in my league squawking about how great his pitching staff is.
And of course, an honorable mention goes out to Hisashi Iwakuma who has been a champ since day one. Actually he’s been a force ever since the Mariners moved him into the rotation during the second half of the season last year. His nine strikeouts were a season-high for him and while that was a huge boost for fantasy owners, you don’t want to get used to it as he won’t normally whiff so many. He will however, keep your ratios at the minimum. Did you know that he’s only allowed three earned runs during his home starts in Safeco? Pfffft! Fences coming in don’t mean dinky-doo.
Man, this was as close to Old-Timers Day as the Yankees could possibly get without rolling out the hordes of retirees who still like to don the pinstripes every year. Lyle Overbay and Ichiro Suzuki are pretty darn long in the tooth yet each one still has a little fight in them. Of course, facing Wade Davis always has the potential to be the cure for what ails you.
And finally, a quick shout out to Ian Desmond who fell a triple short of the cycle on Friday night. I have to admit that I was a bit of a skeptic about him repeating last year’s totals, especially with the continued lingering trade talk, but he’s certainly done his part to eliminate doubt in my mind.
|Andres Torres, OF SF||0-4, 3 K|
|Troy Tulowitzki, SS COL||0-3, 3 K|
|Chase Headley, 3B SD||0-4, 3K|
|Tim Hudson, SP ATL||L, 14.73 ERA, 2.45 WHIP, 4 K|
|Corey Kluber, SP CLE||L, 15.43 ERA, 2.79 WHIP, 4 K|
The usual here in the lowlight section. Andres Torres doesn’t really get to play enough to make much of a difference and I don’t think anyone would have been dumb enough to start Corey Kluber. The other three hurt a little for the night, but we all know they will bounce back soon enough.
Michael Cuddyer, OF COL – neck (day to day)
Erick Aybar, SS LAA – hamstring (day to day)
Glen Perkins, RP MIN – side (day to day)
Eduardo Nunez, SS NYY – ribs (day to day)
Santiago Casilla, RP SF – knee (day to day)
Desmond Jennings, OF TB – groin (day to day)
Jose Molina, C TB – knee (day to day)
Rajai Davis, OF TOR – oblique (day to day)
Bryce Harper, OF WAS – toe (day to day)
Jayson Werth, OF WAS – hamstring (expected to land on 15-day DL)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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