A lack of run support or recent wins weren’t enough to keep Braves pitcher Shelby Miller from a deserved spot on the National League All-Star team.
Miller, who has a modest 5-4 record despite a 2.07 ERA, was named to his first NL All-Star team in his third full major league season and first with the Braves.
“Honestly, I’m a little speechless,” said Miller, 24. “It’s exciting. You don’t know exactly what to say for your first All-Star game, but I’m blown away by it, for sure.”
He’s the only Brave voted or selected to play in the July 14 game at Cincinnati, barring any late addition if other All-Stars are injured.
It’s the first time the Braves have had just one player named to the All-Star team since catcher Brian McCann in 2009, and just the third time it’s happened in the past 24 seasons.
Miller ranked fifth among major league starters in ERA before Monday. Among NL starters, he was fifth in opponents’ slugging percentage (.304), sixth in opponents’ batting average (.214) and tied for seventh in innings (108 2/3).
Despite being one of the league’s most dominant pitchers, he hasn’t recorded a win since May 17. After going 5-1 with a 1.33 ERA in his first eight starts, he’s 0-3 with a 2.80 ERA in his past nine starts.
Miller has received 2.82 runs of offensive support per nine innings pitched, third-worst among NL starters and barely half of support provided for teammate Julio Teheran (5.49), who has the sixth-best run support.
“I don’t even know how (the selection process) works, honestly,” Miller said. “At the end of the day, all I’m trying to do is go out there and pitch. If my (statistics) are better in some areas and worse in some areas – like I said, I’m just trying to go out and pitch. I’m really not a stats guy, I really don’t keep up or look at that too much. I’m just happy and excited for the opportunity. I’m just looking forward to getting there.”
The Braves won seven of Miller’s first eight starts, and have lost seven of his past eight. That’s through no fault of Miller, who has a 2.77 ERA and 40 strikeouts with 16 walks in 48 2/3 innings in his past eight starts. In that span, the Braves scored no runs while he was in five games and one run while he was in two others.
Miller, 24, was acquired from the Cardinals, along with pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins, in the November trade that sent Gold Glove right fielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden to St. Louis.
Miller was third in the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year balloting, after going 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA in 31 starts for the Cardinals. He slipped to 10-9 with a 3.74 ERA in 2014, but the Cardinals were only willing to part with him only because they were desperate to fill the right-field void created when top prospect Oscar Tavares died in a Oct. 26 car wreck.
When he was traded to the Braves, Miller talked about the great pitching tradition of the organization. Now, he’ll join the long line of Braves pitchers who’ve been selected to play in the All-Star game.
“Obviously when you hear it for the first time, it’s pretty awesome,” he said. “You set goals for yourself through the season, and this is one of the stepping stones that you want to have. Just grateful for the opportunity. It’s an amazing experience. Couldn’t have done it without my teammates’ help. I’m just happy to represent the Braves. For the first All-Star (selection), it’s pretty amazing.”