I’ll admit it, I was no fan of the Shelby Miller for Jason Heyward trade when it was announced.

Moving an ascending pitching talent in exchange for an outfielder who’s had two very good and a couple rather average looking seasons didn’t strike me as a good idea during these times when top shelf pitching talent is hard to come by. But, this is working out so far to be the classic good trade. It’s helping both sides.

Both players had flaws, Miller was reportedly a bit headstrong and stubborn, maybe too stubborn for his own good on the mound.  Miller’s youth was in his favor on that.  Maturity and experience usually cleans that up. Heyward was recovering from being hit in the face by a pitch a while back. That’s why he wears that unusual looking batting helmet. Some guys never really recover from that.

It appears to me that Heyward isn’t going to have that problem based on the last 150 or so at bats. As of April 30, Heyward was hitting .217 with two homers and four RBI’s.   Since then, Heyward is hitting .310 with seven homers and 23 RBI’s. That’s over 158 at bats, or just over 25-percent of what a full season. Those numbers are on track with his 2012 season when he hit .269 with 27 homers for the Braves.

There is also the matter of defense. This is not  Fanduels or rotisserie league baseball. Defense matters in real baseball. A lot. Heyward is the best defender in right field for the Cardinals since the days of Andy Van Slyke in the late 80’s and Reggie Smith in the mid 70’s.

Shelby Miller is 5-3 so far with a superb 1.94 earned run average in Atlanta.  At a glance, you’d have to say he’s not missed in the Cardinals rotation—even with Adam Wainwright out with that Achilles tendon injury. With Miller, Atlanta has a chance at some October baseball. Without him they’re already counting the hours before SEC football to starts.