Missing Miller Time
The one area with the 2013 playoff addition of the Boston Red Sox the elicits concern is the bullpen. This is certainly not startling news to anyone who follows the team, as the bullpen has become media fodder and a talk show mainstay.
The bridge to Koji Uehara occasionally resembles “Galloping Gertie.” In fact Koji may be stretched out to Bob Stanley or even Dick Radatz proportions in the playoffs. Apr 27, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Andrew Miller delivers against the Houston Astros during the ninth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Junichi Tazawa has made more than a few uncomfortable with his sudden propensity to give up the long ball. Matt Thornton has not been a bust, but neither has he instilled any surge of “get a beer since this inning is over” when he strolls in from the pen. Drake Britton and Brandon Workman had their moments. Nether appear ready to take charge and lock it down. Ryan Dempster last had steady bullpen work when George Bush was in the White House. Craig Breslow and Koji – that is it as far as the confidence meter gets in its October tune-up.
This brings up what potentially could represent one of the most costly injuries of the season – Andrew Miller.
Miller provided that necessary one or two outs. He was excellent against RH bats as they checked in with a .155 average. Miller was not just a situational lefty. Put in a pinch hitter and he’d do just fine, thank you. Keep him around an extra batter and that was no problem. Miller’s contribution simply has not been replaced. With a 14.1/9 K rate the ball was not put in play with any degree of regularity. The downside is that nasty 4.99/9 walk percentage.
Miller was good at times and very good other times. Miller provided a consistency out of the bullpen that has really not been replaced despite trades and auditions. This could come back to haunt Boston unless starters go deep or someone else steps up.