Miller not fazed by pitching on two weeks' rest

Right-hander spent last October buried in Cardinals' bullpen

Miller not fazed by pitching on two weeks' rest

ST. LOUIS -- After spending last October buried in the bullpen and perplexed by how a 15-win rookie season left him no role in the postseason, Shelby Miller will have an opportunity this fall to show himself capable of starting in October.

Miller was not left out of the Cardinals' National League Division Series rotation plans as he slots in to start Game 4, which will be played next Tuesday at Busch Stadium, as long as neither team sweeps the best-of-five series.

"I'm just excited to pitch," Miller said, downplaying the disappointment of last year. "I'm excited to help the team however I can."

  Date   Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 3   STL 10, LAD 9 video
Gm 2 Oct. 4   LAD 3, STL 2 video
Gm 3 Oct. 6   STL 3, LAD 1 video
Gm 4 Oct. 7   STL 3, LAD 2 video

Because of how the schedule falls, Miller will have two weeks off between his final regular-season start and Game 4 of the NLDS. He plans to throw three side sessions in between to stay sharp. One of those came in Arizona over the weekend. He threw the second on Wednesday, adding about 10 extra pitches to the mix. He will throw again on the side at Dodger Stadium.

"I've taken time off before, so it's not a big deal," Miller said. "The biggest thing is just trying to keep the routine as close to what it is in the regular season as possible and go from there."

Rest actually did Miller well back in July, when the Cardinals inserted a 15-day hiatus in between his final start of the first half and his first start of the second half. Beginning with the latter, Miller posted a 2.96 ERA and limited opponents to a .196 batting average over his last 12 starts of the season.

Miller was even better in September, riding a 17 2/3-scoreless innings streak at one point and finishing the month with a 1.48 ERA in five outings. The strong finish helped him set a career high of 183 innings pitched.

"I felt like I was strong and finished well," Miller said. "The biggest thing was finding ways to make adjustments, finding ways to get better. There was a rough stretch, and I definitely had my ups and downs. But I think this season really opened my eyes on how the game is. You just take it in stride, and I found ways to get better. I feel like I'm pitching more than I had in the past."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.