Were it not for Justin Bour's ninth inning two-out single, we'd be talking about Shelby Miller pitching the Braves' first no-hitter since 1994. Regardless, the 24-year-old righty was as dominant as you can be in what was still a complete game shutout of the Marlins. The most encouraging sign for Atlanta is that Miller's performance on Sunday was no fluke; he hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in a start this year, and owns an MLB-best 1.33 ERA.
Miller, who was acquired in a trade that sent outfielder Jason Heyward to the Cardinals, is quickly becoming one of the Braves' standout pieces in what the team hopes will be a short retooling period. He's the classic case of how a change of scenery can do wonders for a talented-but-inconsistent pitching prospect. If he keeps this up, there's no doubt he'll be in Cincinnati for the All-Star Game.
As for the team he nearly no-hit? Well...
Everyone in the baseball world is asking themselves the same question this week: What are the Marlins thinking?
Just moments after losing 6-0 to Miller and the Braves and falling deeper into the NL East cellar, Miami fired manager Mike Redmond. It was a dramatic move, but not a super surprising one given the organization was clearly looking for a spark. But who did owner Jeffrey Loria tab to replace him? An assistant coach? Nope. A former player with some managerial experience? Try again. Instead, he handed the job to general manager Dan Jennings, who has no experience coaching at the professional level at all.
Loria's been known to make peculiar moves in the past, but this one has to top the list. By giving the inexperienced Jennings the nod, the Marlins have potentially created a sideshow of disastrous proportions. Will the players respect Jennings? Is he capable of managing a major league clubhouse? How will he be able to develop his instincts as a manager, as opposed to his previous role as GM? All those questions loom over a struggling ball club looking to dig its way out of the bottom of the standings.
NEW YORK METS
The Mets are hanging on to their slim lead in the division, and once again it's their pitching that's keeping them on top. The rotation has turned in three straight quality starts, including Matt Harvey's eight shutout frames Monday night against the Cardinals in a 2-1 extra inning victory. On the season, New York has gotten 24 quality starts, second highest in baseball.
What's been just as impressive has been how the once-unsettled relief corps has held things together. Going into Tuesday's slate of games, the Mets own the fourth best bullpen ERA at 2.52. This is new territory for a team that for years seemed to have trouble holding on to leads late in games.
You've got to give it to the Phillies, they're not willing to accept the the title of "NL East cellar dwellers" without a fight. Winners of six straight, they've moved ahead of the reeling Marlins and are now fourth place in the standings. Even better, it's the veteran players that Ruben Amaro hopes to trade later in the season that have helped spark the hot streak. Cole Hamels delivered his third straight quality start Monday night to lower his ERA to 3.24, and Ryan Howard has hit .360 the past week and now leads the club in home runs with seven.
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