Wins, run support continue to elude Miller
ATLANTA -- Shelby Miller has been everything the Braves had hoped he would be. Unfortunately, the Atlanta offense has been anything but helpful any time Miller has stepped on the mound during a winless streak that stretched to 15 starts during Sunday night's 4-1 loss to the Marlins at Turner Field.
"Eventually, this is going to go by," Miller said. "Eventually, I'm going to win a game and we won't be talking about it anymore. But right now, it's all about going out and trying to get a win for the team, more than it is about myself."
Miller's winless streak stands as the longest by a Braves pitcher since Jo-Jo Reyes went winless for 18 starts from 2008-09. But there isn't much other reason to mention these two pitchers in the same breath.
Miller possesses the best ERA (3.16) among the six Atlanta pitchers who have made at least nine starts during his winless streak, which stretches back to May 17, when he came one out shy of no-hitting the Marlins. But the run support (1.38 runs per game) he has received during this stretch easily stands as the lowest among all Major League pitchers. Detroit's Shane Green ranks second within this span at 1.96 runs per game.
"It seems like when he pitches, we don't get the hits we need to get," Braves second baseman Jace Peterson said. "So, it's unfortunate and I'm sure he'd say the same thing. We go out there every day to compete and do the best we can to get him a win. That goes for anybody who is on the mound, but unfortunately, his luck has been like that and we just haven't been able to get it done."
The Braves have totaled 14 runs while Miller has still had the potential to get a win during this maddening 15-start stretch. They have provided zero runs of support in eight of these games and just one run in three of those games.
Dating back to the beginning of the season the Braves have provided Miller zero runs of support 10 times. According to STATS, LLC, the franchise record is 11 such starts -- Preston Hanna (1978) and Larry McWilliams (1980).
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has been encouraged that Miller has not allowed his discouragement to affect his preparations and work ethic.
"I observe body language, I observe work ethic, I observe the way he comes in and does everything, and he's still doing it like he's 15-0," said Gonzalez, who saw Miller go 5-1 with a 1.38 ERA through his first eight starts of the season.
Fortunately, advanced statistical evaluations have led a strong fraction of the baseball world to essentially view a pitcher's win-loss record as meaningless. Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis has posted a Major League-high nine wins while producing a 5.42 ERA during Miller's winless streak.
Miller was certainly not satisfied after he allowed the Marlins two runs and lasted just five innings on Sunday. An inability to consistently command his fastball led him to total 71 pitches through the first three innings. Still, with a little run support, this effort might have still been good enough for him to end this winless streak.
But when he exited, his two-out double in the third stood as the only hit the Braves had recorded.
"You hear about wins and losses kind of dying out for a starting pitcher, but at the same time you're going out there trying to win," Miller said. "Team wins are obviously the goal and if you get a win for yourself, that's great. At the end of the day, I'm all about winning in general."