When news hit that Jason Heyward was headed to St. Louis, many fans weren’t happy to say the least. However, it’s now mid-May, and this trade already looks like a huge steal. Heyward is on an expiring contract, and is, well, the same Jason Heyward. There is no denying that Heyward is talented, but he’s also one of the most overrated names in baseball. He’s a Gold Glove talent in the outfield, but in the batter’s box he is too streaky and inconsistent. He has seemingly regressed in his time in the Major Leagues. Despite this, we all know somebody is going to overpay Heyward when he hits Free Agency this offseason, and John Hart knew that the Braves weren’t going to be the team to do it. He shipped Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden to the Cardinals for Shelby Miller and prospect Tyrell Jenkins. With Chris Carpenter now sidelined for the year, one has to wonder if the Cardinals are now regretting this trade. Shelby Miller has pitched lights out. Though the season is still young, Miller is an early Cy Young candidate.
Since September of last season, Miller owns a 1.59 ERA. A lot of this success can be credited to him adding a sinker pitch to his arsenal. While Julio Teheran and Alex Wood are outstanding front-end starters, people have been saying the Braves have needed a true #1 ace for years. I think they have found it in Shelby Miller. In his six starts this year, Miller is 4-1 with a 1.66 ERA, which is tied for fifth among all starters. His four wins are tied for 7th amongst all pitchers. Shelby had a terrific rookie campaign in 2013, going 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA and 169 strikeouts. He finished third that season in Rookie of the Year voting. He did have a minor setback last season with his control, but it is clear that these issues are in the past. When it’s Miller Time, Braves fans now expect to see a phenomenal pitching performance. He may be penciled in as our number 3 guy, but I don’t think anyone in Atlanta would make the argument against Miller being our top guy. Miller has four more years left of team control, and is still just 24 years old. Miller, Teheran and Wood form a dynamic young trio that can rival the great pitching staffs of the Nationals and Mets for years to come. His three hit shutout of the Phillies last Tuesday was nothing short of spectacular, and Shelby looks to keep proving his worth to his new club.
With Nick Markakis offering Gold Glove defense and a consistent bat as Heyward’s replacement in right field, this trade really does look like a steal. Hitters are hitting just .178 against Miller this season, and though I was initially in favor of this trade regardless, Miller has already exceeded my expectations. If Jason Heyward does not return to the Cardinals in Free Agency this offseason, this trade could go down as one of the worst in St. Louis history, a role reversal of the trade that saw us give up Adam Wainwright for a year of JD Drew. With highly touted prospect Tyrell Jenkins also projected to hit our rotation in the next couple seasons, let’s hope the outcomes are similar: us making the Cardinals regret this deal for years to come.