A starter who still seeks to find some way to contribute to the Cardinals’ postseason run rookie Shelby Miller captured the odd contradiction of his current role standing outside of the team’s dugout before Game 6 of the National League championship series.
“Hopefully” Miller said “they don’t have to use me.”

He got the wish he didn’t want.

The Cardinals completed the NLCS in six games with a 9-0 thumping of the Los Angeles Dodgers that night and they went the entire series without using Miller. The righty who won 15 games and will appear on many NL Rookie of the Year ballots warmed up several times as the starter encountered turbulence but he did not throw a pitch in any of the six games. Miller who had a 3.06 ERA in 173 1/3 innings and 1.75 ERA at Busch Stadium was the only pitcher on the roster who did not appear in the NLCS.

Manager Mike Matheny refuted the notion that Miller was a misspent asset or that his spot on the roster was curious because the long-relief role was one they didn’t want to use. Like Joe Kelly at the start of the season Miller was a talented arm under glass — available in an emergency but otherwise unused.

“He allowed us to make some moves knowing that we have him there” Matheny said. “He’s going to be a guy we’re going to use if we get into a situation where we’ve got a bunch of innings to eat up whether it’s at the front end or back. He’s going to be our guy (if) we have to put things together.”

Cardinals officials have said that Miller 23 is not in danger of eclipsing any innings limit they placed on his young shoulder and that he is not injured. Fatigue was a concern as the rookie saw declines in his strikeout rates in September and the Cardinals said the break from starting in the first two rounds could have a strengthening effect for Miller. When the Cardinals had innings to shoulder as Matheny described in the 13-inning Game 1 of the NLCS Miller warmed up but it was Game 4 starter Lance Lynn who actually entered the game and pitched two innings for the win. Miller sat.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said that the club is comfortable with Miller pitching another 14 innings or so this postseason.

“The arm feels good” Miller said. “Fresh.”

As the Cardinals’ approach Wednesday’s start to the 109th World Series they can readjust their rotation. Ace Adam Wainwright is set for Game 1 and rookie Michael Wacha who won two games and the MVP in the NLCS will be available to start Game 2. Wacha’s ascension this October has made Miller’s absence all the more conspicuous. Both were on the Cardinals’ save-the-innings campaign. Wacha conserved his innings this season through a six-man rotation in Class AAA breaks and a turn in relief. Miller had two extended breaks between starts during the regular season when he was one of the big league’s most consistent rookie starters. The Cardinals cited Pittsburgh and Los Angeles as difficult matchups for Miller leaving open the possibility that he’ll start when the World Series shifts to Busch.