Shelby Miller's October absence is explained

Clearer answers as to what happened to Shelby Miller during the 2013 post-season are now coming out.

In a puzzling set of events, the St. Louis Cardinals used their star rookie starter Shelby Miller only once during the entire playoffs. Miller himself expressed surprise, making it known he had wanted to pitch more, while both the player and organization said there was nothing wrong with the 23-year-old. The reason offered was vague concern about workload level.

According to a recent report from the Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold, Miller had reported shoulder soreness to team officials in September. It is unclear why this news was cloaked in such secrecy until now.

Earlier, Miller had dealt with right shoulder soreness in late February during spring training camp. After the soreness was first reported on February 20th, Miller made his Grapefruit League debut 10 days later, on March 2nd. After five Florida appearances, he was announced as the winner of the final spot in the rotation on March 25.

Miller went on to pitch 174 1/3 innings and win 15 games for the 2013 National League Champions, but experienced a drop off in effectiveness late in the season. Following an August 7 incident in which a batted ball was lined off his forearm, Miller's strikeouts dropped from 9.8 per nine innings all the way down to 6.4 while his walks increased from 2.6 per nine to 3.8.

There is no reason to believe the most recent recurrence of elbow soreness is serious or Miller surely would not have remained on the active roster throughout the entire playoffs. Likely the club wanted to play it safe with a very important asset, their Rookie of the Year for 2013, and expected member of the 2014 starting five.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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