Andrew Miller’s MLB Return

For a 26-year-old with an even 300 innings pitched in the majors, Andrew Miller has worn many labels throughout his career. He was a college ace at North Carolina and a top-10 pick by the Tigers in the 2006 draft. He was a primo prospect acquired by the Marlins in the December 2007 Miguel Cabrera deal. And he was a bitter disappointment traded to Boston last offseason for nothing more than recently-DFA’d reliever Dustin Richardson.

Last night, Miller took the mound at Fenway Park wearing yet another label: reclamation project. With Clay Buchholz on the DL with a back injury, the 6-foot-7, herky-jerky lefty got a fill-in start versus the San Diego Padres. He didn’t disappoint. Miller’s control wasn’t great, but he showed better stuff at the major league level than he had in years.

Miller struck out six and walked three in 5.2 frames, allowing seven hits and three runs on a fastball that Orlando Hudson roped over the Green Monster. He got ahead in the count, throwing first pitch strikes to 16 of 26 batters faced, and induced eight ground ball outs.

Brooks Baseball shows that Miller averaged over 93 MPH with his fastball and topped out at 96, well above his 90-91 MPH average with the Marlins over the past few years. He also spotted his secondary stuff well, getting strikes with his mid-80s changeup (71 percent) and high-70s slider (69 percent). Catcher Jason Varitek was impressed with Miller’s change of pace, a pitch that Miller hadn’t previously used much, and for good reason.

It’s just one start. And it came against the Padres, who have one of baseball’s worst offenses even when Petco Park’s bat-munching tendencies are taken into account. Miller had thrown the ball exceptionally well at Pawtucket recently, but his overall body of work (65.2 IP, 61/35 K/BB ratio) hints that he’s just a pitch away from fighting his mechanics and losing the zone.

That said, Miller appears to be over the knee, oblique and ankle issues that affected the quality of his stuff with Florida. While he’s currently just a rotation fill-in, it’s not like John Lackey and Josh Beckett have been beacons of health in recent years. Tim Wakefield was born during the Lyndon Johnson administration and has a creaky back. There’s certainly opportunity here for Miller’s stint in Boston’s rotation to last much longer.

ZiPS gives Miller a LaLoosh-like projection for the rest of the season (37/36 K/BB in 50 innings), but Boston’s salvage project bears watching. He could be a nice find if he retains that fastball velocity and shows a legitimate changeup to go with his looping breaking ball.



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A recent graduate of Duquesne University, David Golebiewski is a contributing writer for Fangraphs, The Pittsburgh Sports Report and Baseball Analytics. His work for Inside Edge Scouting Services has appeared on ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, and he was a fantasy baseball columnist for Rotoworld from 2009-2010. He recently contributed an article on Mike Stanton's slugging to The Hardball Times Annual 2012. Contact David at david.golebiewski@gmail.com and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.


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Adam W
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Adam W

I saw Miller in Pawtucket a couple weeks ago, and he looked like a completely different guy. Not sure what happened, but he was hitting 94 on the gun, commanding his off-speed stuff, and pounding the zone – I’m pretty sure he only walked 1 batter in his last 3 minor league starts.

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