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Cardinals' Shelby Miller armed for next season

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ST. LOUIS (AP)

Shelby Miller pitched just one inning in the playoffs last season for the Cardinals and is puzzled why he wasn't used more. Now he simply wants to get on with next season.

''It's tough to not get to pitch in the postseason and stuff, but at the same time, we had a good thing going and it's hard to change it up,'' Miller said Sunday during the annual Cardinals' Winter Warmup. ''I don't really have a good answer for it to be honest. We were winning games, so you can't really complain.''

Miller had a 15-9 record last year with a 3.06 ERA, 10th best in the league. In the postseason, the 23-year-old rookie right-hander pitched one inning of relief against Pittsburgh in the NL division series. He gave up a home run.

And that was it.

He says there were no injury concerns with this shoulder and he wasn't tired.

''Physically, I felt amazing,'' he said. ''I felt good. I didn't feel any better or worse than I did during the season.''

No one in the organization told him why he was put on the shelf. Nor did he ask for a reason, either.

''The season just kind of ended and I just kind of put it in the past really,'' Miller said. ''I was a little upset I didn't pitch but I just put it away. After the season ended, I just wanted to be ready for a big offseason.

''I didn't want to dwell on the past and why I didn't pitch in October. I'm not worried about it anymore. I'm just going to let it be a mystery. A mystery unsolved.''

He doesn't want the postseason to influence his start to next season.

''I wouldn't say October will motivate me any more than the regular season,'' Miller said. ''I think, obviously, I wished I could have pitched more but at the same time, the season I had last year will push me even more.

''Obviously, I had a good season and I want to be that much better. I want to win 20 games next season somehow. I want to be a part of winning a World Series.''

Miller started 31 games in 2013. That was the most starts by a St. Louis rookie since Rick Ankiel started 30 in 2000. Miller won more games than any rookie last season. He ranked third among rookies in strikeouts with 169. Only Ankiel and Dizzy Dean had more strikeouts in their rookie season as Cardinals than did Miller.

He pitched in 173 1-3 innings. He held opponents to a .234 average - the 13th-lowest average among all NL starters. He finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year vote.

Still, another Cardinals rookie generated more buzz down the stretch. Michael Wacha went 4-1 with a 2.64 ERA in five postseason starts. He was the MVP of the NL championship series.

St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright says Miller was overlooked.

''I think sometimes we forget what he was able to do for us last year,'' Wainwright said. ''Winning 15 games as a rookie is pretty awesome.''

This year, Miller wants to hit the 200-inning mark. He also wants to pitch into the seventh and eighth innings more often.

''The deeper you go,'' he said, ''the better chance you have to win, and the better it is for the bullpen.''

Tagged: Cardinals

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