Could the Shelby MIller we got last night--have gotten, mostly, since the middle of last summer--look any less like the Shelby Miller we were warned about? This Shelby Miller isn't a brash mistake-maker; he isn't reliant on one pitch, or on the simple act of overpowering weaker competition; he doesn't just throw fastballs.
And he doesn't even have the best fastball you've seen all day.
The easy lesson to learn from Shelby Miller: People who are very young, exceptionally successful, and suddenly wealthy are moving targets. They're going to change, and hopefully grow, personally and professionally. And anyway it is important that they develop some habits or hobbies or opinions or fashion touches they can be really embarrassed about by 23 or 24.
The harder lesson to learn from Shelby Miller: That the explanations we rely on for separating prospects and stars from the pack--the collection of reasons we've developed to explain their success--are not even close to elementary. Low ERA breaks down to good peripherals breaks down to satisfyingly scout-y talk about rising fastballs and deception and location breaks down into mechanics breaks down into something else, probably.
Which is to say that even when prospects shift completely from one explanation to the other--my favorite of these is Reid Brignac going from slugging tweener to defense-first shortstop within a couple of years, but Ryan Jackson's recent defensive downgrade might also work--I have to believe that the change isn't as complete or arbitrary as it looks.
Most of it's probably development (or lack of development) and our infinite capability for evaluating baseball players incorrectly, but I don't think that's all that's going on; I don't think Miller could have developed so quickly into a different pitcher, and I don't think the scouts could have missed the one we're looking at now. Something about Shelby Miller that we were told to read as stubborn and inflexible is, at least for the moment, better read another way.
How did Shelby Miller the hard-throwing, raw high-schooler presage Shelby Miller the guy who threw 87 strikes on Friday? I'm not sure, entirely--I'm just sure he must have.