Cheap Seats

Shelby Miller off to a hot start in Atlanta while Jason Heyward struggles in St. Louis

Former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller is off to a hot start with his new team, the Atlanta Braves.

Miller, traded by the Redbirds in a deal that returned Gold Glove outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden, has a 2-0 record with a 1.69 ERA for Atlanta. He's allowed 12 hits in 16 innings and has struck out 11. 

Walks and high pitch counts continue to be an issue for Miller, He's issued seven free passes, or nearly one every other inning he has pitched. He's made it more than five innings into a start only once in his three appearances. Miller threw 99 pitches in five innings his first start, 88 pitches in five innings his second and it took him 100 deliveries to make it through six frames in his most recent outing.

Meanwhile, former Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis has taken over Heyward's spot in right field for Atlanta. He's batting .362 with a 464 on-base percentage.

Heyward has struggled in the early going in St. Louis. He's batting .193 with one homer and three runs batted in. He has flashed his glove in right field, making a few spectacular plays and he's been exciting on the bases when he gets on. Heyward, who is speedy for his size, is an aggressive baserunner who puts a lot of pressure on the defense because of his effort to take extra bases.

While the early returns are disappointing in the deal, it still seems like a swap that;s going to be beneficial to both clubs.

The Cardinals needed a right fielder to take over in the absence of Oscar Taveras who was killed in a tragic off-season car crash. Meanwhile, the Redbirds had too many starting pitchers with Carlos Martinez in general manager John Mozeliak's plans for the starting rotation.

Hopefully Heyward will get hot soon. He has traditionally been a slow starter with his .222 career average in April being his worst month. He's a .242 hitter in May, a .272 hitter in June, a .271 batter in July, a .297 batter in August and a .260 batter in September and October.

His splits pretty clearly indicate he's a warm weather hitter, so playing in colder temperatures in St. Louis as compared to Atlanta could be causing him issues.