JC Romero? Who needs him when you've got Wade Miller pitching seven scoreless innings, and then letting Mike Myers, Mike Timlin and Curt Schilling finish off the shutout? It wasn't the smoothest seven innings, but it was enough to give Miller some confidence against a great team in Chicago.
We needed the win last night, but more importantly we needed Miller to pitch as well as he did. This was his best start of the season, and it couldn't have come at a better time in the season. Miller struck out four, and walked four, so he wasn't necessarily perfect. But he did only five up five hits, which includes four singles, and one double that really should have been an error because Manny Ramirez miss-played it. Other than, Miller was the pitcher we envisioned him to be when we signed him exactly seven months ago yesterday.
Miller dropped his earned run average 0.44, now down to a respectable 4.57. Over his last three starts, though, Miller has been impressive:
The walks have been his biggest problem, but you kind of have to expect that when he throws his curveball as much as he does. I believe he has one of the best curveballs in the league with its massive break, but you'll see him hit in the dirt often. If it's right over the plate, though, he can make the best hitters in the league look foolish.
After yesterday's outing, he looks prepared for a turn-around this season. He has a 2.13 ERA since the All-Star break, and historically he has always pitched well after the All-Star break:
That is very reassuring. You may say that he's never been coming off of major surgery like he is this season, but I don't think that matters too much at this point. If you can go seven scoreless innings in relatively easy fashion against the best team in the league, I consider you healthy.
Who needs AJ Burnett or Jason Schmidt when you have the caliber of a pitcher in Wade Miller? Burnett and Schmidt will cost us money and prospects. Why don't we just make do with what we've got, and see if Miller can reproduce his second half in 2002? He has the potential. It's just a matter of being at peak condition. If times get tough in the rotation, we can bring up a Jon Papelbon, Abe Alvarez or Jon Lester. We don't need to resort to Burnett for answers.
Miller is primed to break out, and last night was his first step to being the elite pitcher that his capable to be.