Preview: Brewers at Braves
When the Atlanta Braves acquired Shelby Miller during the offseason, the organization felt he had the potential to be an elite pitcher.
He’s proving them right.
Coming off a near no-hitter, Miller tries to continue his dominance this month and against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.
After Miller (5-1, 1.33 ERA) followed a 15-win campaign by going 10-9 with a 4.50 ERA during his second full season in 2014, Atlanta made a curious move by dealing offensive staple Jason Heyward to St. Louis in a deal that brought the right-hander south.
"We loved Shelby and we didn’t blink," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart told MLB’s official website. "We just went with it. … We just felt it was the right deal for us.
"We valued Shelby and felt there was still upside."
Ranked among the major league leaders in ERA and WHIP (0.83), Miller has certainly shown that upside. In his last three starts, he’s gone 2-0 with two complete games, allowed one run and eight hits over 25 innings while walking four and striking out 20.
"He’s got it going on," Hart said. "He’s got some weapons and he’s developed those weapons."
His no-hit bid Sunday ended with two outs in the ninth of a 6-0 victory at Miami.
"Obviously things didn’t finish as we wanted to," said Miller, who yielded two hits and one walk while facing 29 Marlins. "In the end I had a lot of fun."
Hart credits Miller’s tireless work ethic on and off the field for his success this season.
"He’s made a lot of adjustments and it’s been a lot of fun to watch," Hart said. "The one thing that I like is this guy is prepared and he’s taking ownership in his career. He’s in the video room and the weight room. He’s paying attention and he’s experimenting. This is a pretty special young man on top of what he has been able to do for us on the mound."
Miller’s often been at best his while going 5-0 with a 2.20 ERA in eight starts against Milwaukee (16-27), which evened the set with an 11-0 rout Friday. After pounding out 11 hits in Thursday’s 10-1 series-opening victory, Atlanta was held to three.
The Brewers had two hits in the opener then recorded 12 while improving to 4-4 on a 10-game trip.
With a two-run homer and four RBI Friday, Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun has homered in three of the last four games and is batting .358 with six and 20 RBIs in his last 16 contests.
"The challenge is doing it over the course of a season, but the last month I’ve swung the bat a lot better than I have in a long, long time," said Braun, who is 4 for 12 versus Miller.
Teammate Aramis Ramirez is 0 for 6 in the series but 7 for 16 with two home runs against Miller.
Milwaukee’s Mike Fiers (1-4, 4.75) is 0-3 with a 6.29 ERA in five home starts but 1-1 with a 2.60 ERA in three on the road. He allowed two runs for a second consecutive outing while lasting 5 2-3 innings and not factoring in the decision of Monday’s 3-2 win at Detroit.
This will be the right-hander’s first appearance against the Braves.
Milwaukee reliever Will Smith was suspended eight games for having a foreign substance on his arm Thursday. He’s available to pitch until his appeal is heard.