Miller, however, was able to finish the season on a high note, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and .190 opponents' batting average over his final seven starts. Miller attributes his success down the stretch to incorporating a sinker into his repertoire, per FOX Sports South.
"I said I'm going to throw some of these, and we'll see where it's at," Miller said of a conversation he had with catcher A.J. Pierzynski before an Aug. 23 start against the Phillies. "It felt good so we just went with it. I started throwing it literally within three days. It's a good pitch that I picked up quick.
"I still need a lot of work with it. I need a lot of work with all my pitches. There's all sorts of ways to get better. But I think that's definitely a pitch that will help me be more efficient and take me deeper into games. That's [the sinker] going to be a huge pitch for me this year that's ultimately going to take me to the next level. Not only that but kind of mixing it all together, becoming more of a complete pitcher more than a thrower."
Miller added he will also begin to work more on his changeup, which he threw just 2.2 percent of the time in 2014, per FanGraphs.com.
"I know [Braves pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] has been known for changeups," Miller said. "A lot of great pitchers have come through this organization, [and] that's a pitch I would love to pick up. I want to be able to throw it more consistently, [and] have a little bit more confidence in it."
There's little doubt that Miller was a far better pitcher in the second half than in the first half, but skepticism over his future is warranted, especially now that he will spend it as a member of the Braves' rotation. As a flyball pitcher, Miller will be even more challenged to keep the ball in the park at Turner Field, which is home run-neutral. He has a career 1.0 HR/9 ratio, but that's only because he has had the luxury of making home starts at pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium, where he has compiled an 0.7 HR/9 ratio. Elsewhere, that mark has ballooned to 1.4 HR/9.
So, yes, Miller became a much better control pitcher down the stretch, throwing 66 percent of his pitches for strikes and walking 19 batters over 74 second-half innings. That won't be enough to make up for Miller's propensity for giving up the long ball. His best hope is to rediscover the ability to induce swings-and-misses, but that was not evident even during his better stretches last season.
Miller was no more than a streaming option for standard mixed league owners last season, and the change of scenery won't improve his status.
"It was very difficult to trade Jason, but deal was made to help us short-term and long-term," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said. "This deal also improves us in an area where we are woefully, woefully thin -- our minor-league system."
Heyward had been mentioned in trade rumors leading up to Monday's deal. He is in the final year of his contract after signing a two-year extension in Feb. 2014. The 25-year-old outfielder is coming off a disappointing 2014 season. He hit .271 with a .384 slugging percentage, .735 OPS, 11 home runs, 26 doubles and 58 RBI in 149 games.
The 24-year-old Miller is also coming off a disappointing campaign. The once highly touted pitching prospect went 10-9 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 32 appearances (31 starts). While he reached a career high in innings (183), Miller struggled with his command (3.6 BB/9) and saw his strikeout rate drop significantly (6.2 K/9).
"As we look at Shelby, we see that he has a chance to become a front-of-line rotation type of guy," Hart said.
Walden, the former Angels' All-Star closer in 2011, is under team control through 2016. He was 0-2 with a 2.88 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and three saves in 58 appearances for Atlanta last season.
Jenkins is a former top-100 prospect whose career has been slowed by a shoulder injury he sustained in 2013. He returned to action in 2014, going 6-5 with a 3.28 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 13 starts at high Class A.
Miller surrendered a sacrifice fly in the first inning and was touched up for two more runs in the third. He was pulled with two outs and one on in the fourth after throwing just 65 pitches in the start but left with the lead. The teams head into Thurdsay's Game 5 of the NLCS with the Giants ahead 3-1.
Cardinals coach Mike Matheny said Wainwright is perfectly fine heading into the NLCS. There was concern Lynn might have had to start the NLCS opener, if Wainwright was unavailable due to soreness or stiffness.
|CBSSports.com Player Ranking|
|10/7/2014 vs L.A. Dodgers|
|vs L.A. Dodgers||6.0||0||1||9.00||0||4||4|
|Last 7 Games|
|Complete Game Log|
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|More Pitching Stats|
|Postseason Pitching Stats|
|Minor League Pitching Stats|
|2010||AFX-Quad Cities River Ba||7||5||3.63||24||24||0||0||0||104.0||97||51||42||7||3||33||140|
|2011||AFA-Palm Beach Cardinals||2||3||2.89||9||9||0||0||0||53.0||40||20||17||2||1||20||81|
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