Miller, Fernandez have hard-to-hit stuff
June, 1, 2013
By Mark Simon | ESPN.com
Two members of the 2013 rookie class put up zeroes in their Saturday pitching performances.
Let’s zoom in on how St. Louis Cardinals starter Shelby Miller and Miami Marlins starter Jose Fernandez got the job done.
This was the third time this season that Miller pitched at least seven innings and allowed no runs, one shy of the most such outings in the majors.
It wasn’t quite as impressive as the pair of instances in which he allowed only one hit against the Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies, but was still stellar nonetheless.
Miller struck out seven hitters, four swinging at well-placed fastballs that hovered atop or just above the top of the strike zone. He threw 53 of 70 fastballs (76 percent) for strikes in the game.
Opponents are hitting .204 against Miller’s heater this season, missing on nearly one-quarter of their swings against the pitch. That’s about 70 points below the major-league average.
His 24 percent miss rate with the fastball this season ranks seventh-best among starting pitchers (when including sinkers as well) trailing only Yu Darvish, Matt Harvey, and Andrew Cashner.
The Giants went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, which was nothing new from Miller’s perspective. Opponents are 6-for-39 with runners in scoring position against him this season and have had one hit or fewer in those situations in 10 of his 11 starts.
Miller’s scoreless outing lowered his season ERA to 1.82, a mark bettered only by Patrick Corbin’s 1.71 in the National League.
This was the third time this season that Fernandez has pitched at least six scoreless innings His Marlins teammates have combined for three such outings this season.
Fernandez has pitched against the Mets three times in the first 11 games of his career and fared well against them, allowing three runs in 16 innings, holding them to a .164 batting average.
The key to Saturday’s win for Fernandez was that he had a very effective putaway pitch. Fernandez threw 27 breaking balls and netted seven outs, six of them strikeouts, without allowing any baserunners. That’s the most strikeouts he’s had with his breaking pitches in any of his 11 career starts.
It was a much improved curveball/slider combo for Fernandez than in his previous start against the Rays, in which he threw nearly the same number, but gave up two hits (including a Kelly Johnson homer) a walk, and a hit by pitch with them.
This was Fernandez’s first home win, though he’s pitched well enough to win previously in Marlins Park. In five starts there, he has a 1.55 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and .176 opponents’ batting average.
The latter ranked fourth-best in the NL entering Saturday night. One rookie was better—- Miller, .161.