Shelby Miller’s final attempt to end his lengthy winless streak in 2015 will come against a team that’s resting up for the playoffs.
The St. Louis Cardinals also happen to be the Atlanta Braves right-hander’s former club, and that would likely make a long-awaited victory a little sweeter should it come in Sunday’s opener to a doubleheader.
Miller (5-17, 3.15 ERA) hasn’t earned a win since coming within one out of a no-hitter May 17 in Miami. He’s 0-16 with a 3.83 ERA in his last 24 starts while receiving a combined 25 runs of support, and had his final chance to end that streak delayed Friday because of a rainout.
Miller hasn’t aided his own cause lately with a 5.56 ERA in an eight-start losing streak and matched a career high by allowing seven runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 9-5 loss in Miami on Sunday.
No matter what happens Saturday, Miller’s streak will mark the longest for a starter in a single season since Jack Nabors’ 27 for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1916. A 25th consecutive outing without a victory would put him just shy of tying Joe Oeschger’s 26-start streak for the Boston Braves from 1922-23.
Another loss would leave Miller tied for the second-longest streak in one season with the New York Mets’ Roger Craig (1963). Nabors lost his final 19 decisions.
Miller, who pitched his first three seasons in St. Louis and won 15 games in 2013, was acquired in November in a four-player deal that sent Jason Heyward to St. Louis.
Miller has faced the Cardinals (100-60) just one other time this year. He yielded one run and two hits over 7 1-3 innings July 25 in St. Louis in a 1-0 loss.
"They’re some of my best friends and I wish them the best of luck, but I’m going to try to beat them tomorrow," he said. "They’re not going to get out of here easy, that’s for sure."
Heyward is batting .292 with a team-leading 23 stolen bases and was given the night off in a 4-0 loss to the Braves (65-95) on Friday. He could play his first game as an opposing player in Atlanta during the doubleheader.
"It’d be more of a homecoming if more of the teammates I played with were still here," he said. "I know this is the team I broke in with and I played a lot of games with, but it’s a different team and a different vibe."
Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta were also among the regulars who were also given a night off in the series opener.
"It’s nice to take advantage of an opportunity to get a little more rest, but we’ll also get work and try to stay sharp," manager Mike Matheny told MLB’s official website.
Stephen Piscotty hasn’t played since an outfield collision Monday in Pittsburgh, and Matheny was hopeful he could play this weekend.
John Lackey (13-9, 2.69) makes his final start before potentially pitching in Game 1 of the NL division series against Pittsburgh or the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
The right-hander has proved a model of consistency with 20 consecutive starts of at least six innings, and he’s 9-5 with a 2.13 ERA in that stretch. He’s gone at least seven innings in each of his last five outings and is 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA in his past three.
He is 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in two starts versus Atlanta, the most recent in May 2014.
Lance Lynn (12-10, 3.06) starts the finale for the Cardinals and will seek to extend a 13 1/3-inning scoreless streak. The right-hander went five innings in a 3-0 win in Pittsburgh on Monday but did not get a decision.
Lynn is 2-2 with a 3.67 ERA in four career starts versus Atlanta, including a 5-2 win in the most recent May 16, 2014.
Matt Wisler (7-8, 5.11) will seek to close out his season with a third consecutive win. The rookie right-hander gave up one run in seven innings in a 2-1 victory over Washington on Tuesday and was a 3-2 winner in his only start against St. Louis on July 26, yielding two runs in seven innings.