PITTSBURGH -- Manager Mike Matheny had a decision to make when putting together his rotation for the National League Division Series. When Lance Lynn's experience got the nod over rookie Shelby Miller, that pushed the 22-year-old right-hander to the bullpen.
After a season that saw Miller make 31 starts and throw 173 1/3 innings, the change in routine has taken some getting used to.
"It's different, but my job is to pitch out of the bullpen," Miller said. "I've accepted the role and want to help the team win."
Miller appeared in Game 2 of the NLDS, allowing a solo homer by Starling Marte in the Cardinals' 7-1 loss to the Pirates. He knows he needs to be back and ready to go should the need arise in Game 3 on Sunday, a bit of a departure from his routine as a member of the St. Louis rotation.
"That's the biggest adjustment, pitching back-to-back days," Miller said. "I won't be out there for a long time, pitching in shorter stints, unless something happens and I have to pitch long relief. I haven't been told what my role is exactly. I just have to make sure I'm ready."
Miller hasn't fared too well against the Pirates during an otherwise outstanding season that should garner at least a few Rookie of the Year votes. He went 0-4 with a 5.32 ERA in his four starts against Pittsburgh, allowing 29 hits in 22 innings. His last outing against his division rivals, coming at PNC Park on Aug. 31, was his worst of the four; he allowed five runs on eight hits in just 4 1/3 innings. It's quite possible that track record figured into the decision-making process of who to start and who to push into the bullpen.
"I'm sure they had some history," Miller said. "The other four guys starting are unbelievable pitchers. I can't be upset. We believe in all of them."
Hindsight obviously can alter perspective, with Lynn's poor performance in Game 2 leading many to think Miller should have gotten the ball instead. Miller isn't going to go there, instead preparing for the immediacy of adjusting to being a relief pitcher, at least for the time being.
Miller sees it as a step in the right direction, considering he didn't start the 2012 postseason on the active roster. He was added to replace an injured Jaime Garcia, appearing in two games during the NL Championship Series in relief, an experience he could draw from during this postseason run.
"It's not my call, there's nothing I can do about it, but I'm not upset," Miller said. "I might start in the next series, but I have to accept [my role]. I'm just happy I'm on the roster. Last year, I wasn't really on the roster."