Catching up with old friends takes a look at past Boston Red Sox players, and where they are now. This week we have left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller.
Today we will take a look at a past Boston Red Sox player who some may have not even known or remembered was on the team. He has become one of the best – some would argue the best -relief pitcher in Major League Baseball. Andrew Miller once called Fenway Park his home.
Miller was drafted out of UNC-Chapel Hill by the Detroit Tigers with the 6th overall pick in 2006, only to see action months later with the big league club.
Miller began his career in the rotation, as most relief pitchers do before making the transition to the bullpen. Through his five years logging a start on the bump, Miller was never able to bring his ERA under 4.00 or his WHIP under 1.50 with three different teams (Tigers, Marlins, Red Sox).
It seemed as though Miller was nothing more than a below average back of the rotation pitcher who wasn’t able to hit his spots. After being traded by the Tigers as a piece for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, Miller was traded to the Red Sox after three uneventful years as a starter. Miller continued his career in his first year with the Red Sox as a below average back-end starting pitcher, putting up pedestrian numbers once again.
Then in 2012, Miller was not selected as one of the starting pitchers in the rotation out of spring training. Miller, wanting to stay with a big league club, decided to slide into the role of a bullpen guy and seems to be fitting him well.
A lot of Miller’s success may be attributed to his time with the Red Sox. His first year as a relief pitcher, Miller decided to switch to more of a two-pitch arsenal, deciding to slowly phase out his changeup, and using his slider at a much higher clip. And it doesn’t hurt that his slider is one of the hardest pitches to hit in the league.
Since 2015, his first full season after being traded by the Red Sox for Eduardo Rodriguez during the 2014 season, Miller has put together a 1.63 ERA, 0.785 WHIP, and 318 K’s through close to 200 innings of work from the bullpen. Miller has also been an All-Star twice during that span, the 2015 AL Rivera Reliever award recipient, and brought home the 2016 ALCS MVP award for his dominant performance against the Toronto Blue Jays.
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As the Red Sox are currently in search for a lefty relief pitcher, with names like Tony Watson coming up in recent days, it is intriguing to think of the impact of a player of Miller’s magnitude in the bullpen could have for us. Miller’s dominance has been no fluke, as he has shown year after year that he is virtually unhittable.
With Miller set to hit the market in 2019, the same year as Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, it is not out of the realm of possibility that there could be a push made for another dominant relief pitcher. But with Miller entering his age 34 season in 2019, and if he is coming off another dominant year, he may be out of the Red Sox price range.
One can only dream now about how it would have been if the Red Sox had held onto Andrew Miller, but there was no way of telling at the time that Miller would turn into one of the game’s most dominant pitchers. Now, all we can do is appreciate the player that Miller has turned into, and take a little credit for seeing the potential that he had during his time with us.