Shelby Miller has an excellent pitcher for the Braves this year based on most metrics, which for many has softened the blow of losing Jason Heyward. His 2.44 ERA, 7.33 Ks per 9, 3.25 FIP, and other outstanding marks led to (and rightly so) the Braves pitcher being the only Braves' representative at the All-Star game this year. He has averaged over 6 innings a start this year, has conducted himself as a complete professional, and gives the Braves a chance to win every time he steps on to the mound.
There has just been one glaring problem: run support.
When I said that Miller has been excellent by most metrics, the one that hasn't shown his excellence is his record: 5-8 as of this writing. Yes, this pitcher who has pitched like an ace all season long is 3 games below .500 on his record for the year. If that isn't a damning indictment of the W-L statistic, then I don't know what is, but thats besides the point. The reason for this is that in Shelby's starts this year, the Braves offense has averaged 2.82 runs per game, good for the third worst support in baseball (only Jon Lester and Aaron Harang have gotten less). If you look at run support per 9 innings pitched, Shelby has gotten the absolute worst run support in baseball at 2.64. The numbers get worse and worse as you narrow the sample size to more and more recent starts.
Dating back to May 18: Colby Lewis 9-2, 5.60 ERA; Nathan Eovaldi 8-1, 4.38; Shelby Miller 0-7, 3.14 #KillTheWin— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) August 5, 2015
Shelby Miller's run support over his past 14 starts: 2,1,0,3,1,0,0,0,0,3,0,0,1,3..Equates to 1.47 runs per game going back to 5/23— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) August 5, 2015
This has led to some really weird statistical splits for Miller. Instead of being considered in the Cy Young voting (he may still get some votes here and there yet), Miller has to look at his 2.4 WAR season to date in conjunction with...
I have just as many wins (0), and much fewer losses (7) than Shelby Miller over his last 14 games. 3.14 ERA, 1.3605 WHIP— Braves Reddit (@BravesReddit) August 5, 2015
#Braves Shelby Miller has a 1.97 ERA in 10 home starts ... and a 2-4 record. I mean, seriously.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) August 5, 2015
Its been a great and tough season at the same time for Miller. I don't think the Braves expected him to be able to pitch like an ace when they acquired him and Tyrell Jenkins for basically one year of Jason Heyward, so in that respect he should every reason to be proud of the season he has pitch thus far. However, and despite many folks agreeing that wins and losses as a statistic is useless, it can and does weigh on a pitcher when your offense goes out and lays an egg every time you pitch. Pitchers play to win games and when you aren't getting that particular result in your starts, it can't feel great. That being said, there is little indication that Shelby is letting the losses get to him anymore than anyone else on the Braves. Hopefully for his last few starts this season the Braves can score a few runs for a change...but there is reason to worry that at least one Braves pitcher will be cursed with terrible run support. In 2014, 2 of the bottom 4 pitchers in the majors were Braves (the recently departed Alex Wood and Julio Teheran). In 2013, Kris Medlen famously gotten terrible run support, good for 6th worst in the league. One has to wonder who is going to get the kiss of death next year.