Braves-Marlins Preview

Amid some strong individual efforts in a frustrating first year with Atlanta, Shelby Miller's most painful moment might have occurred the last time he pitched in Miami.

He was an out shy of a no-hitter there May 17 but hasn't won since, and the results may be leading to the strangest year for a starting pitcher in baseball history.

The right-hander returns to the mound at Marlins Park on Sunday as the Braves conclude a three-game series, and while many will point to an expansive winless stretch as this season's ultimate misfortune, there's a lot more to it.

Miller (5-16, 3.00 ERA) enters his second-to-last outing at 0-15 with a 3.65 ERA in 23 starts since dominating the Marlins. He's tied with Matt Keough (1979) for the second-longest single-season winless run behind Jack Nabors' 27 in a row in 1916. He could also become the first Braves pitcher to lose eight straight starts since Preston Hanna in '78.

Wait, it gets worse: With a .238 winning percentage, he's on pace to become the first with at least 30 starts and an ERA of 3.00 or lower with that poor of a percentage since Bob Groom went 7-26 (.212) with a 2.87 ERA in 1909. In fact, Miller would be the fourth in history to have a 30-start season with such an ERA and a percentage under .250.

However, it might be unfair to put Miller and Groom in the same category because Groom's numbers can't be considered an anomaly. The league ERA was 2.53 that season compared to the 2015 mark of 3.97 entering play Saturday. Groom's ERA was higher than the league, and Miller is nearly a full run better than his contemporaries.

The 24-year-old lost his seventh straight outing in Monday's 4-0 defeat at the New York Mets after giving up two runs and seven hits in six innings. In his last five, he's been given one run of support across 27 innings. His 2.30 season RSA is on pace to be the lowest for a qualifying pitcher since Jose DeLeon's 2.27 mark in '85.

"As bad as my streak has been, we're still playing hard baseball, and that is all that matters to me," Miller told MLB's official website. "It would be a lot different if it was going this way and it didn't seem like anybody was trying."

Miller has unsurprisingly lost both of his starts against the Marlins since the two-hit shutout, but he's 2-2 with a 1.16 ERA in five outings against them this season.

It doesn't help that after Saturday's 6-2 loss, the Braves (62-93) have dropped six straight to the Marlins (68-87), who can match a season-best five-game winning streak.

"They realize there is no rainbow at the end, in terms of postseason," said manager Dan Jennings, whose club has won 16 of 24. "But there is the mindset of, this core is together. This core is good. Finish this season strong and get ready for 2016."

Justin Bour homered for a second straight game, is batting .364 with five homers and 14 RBIs in his last 11 and is 3 for 5 against Miller.

Miami counters with Tom Koehler, who could join Miller and become baseball's seventh pitcher to lose at least 15 games this season.

Koehler (10-14, 3.94), however, has deserved his fate a bit more. The right-hander gave up four runs - three earned - and seven hits in five innings of Tuesday's 6-2 home loss to Philadelphia, falling to 2-8 with a 5.29 ERA in his last 11 starts.

Koehler is 1-4 with a 3.54 ERA in nine career starts against the Braves.

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