Red Sox must avoid Cardinals RP Andrew Miller
It’s hard to believe it was just five years ago that Andrew Miller was considered the best relief weapon in baseball. His two-year run from 2016 to 2017 was one of the best of any reliever in recent memory, as he posted an incredible 1.45 ERA and struck out 218 batters in just 137 innings. That stretch included his incredible 2016 postseason in which he allowed just three runs in 19.2 innings and nearly single-handily carried the Indians to a World Series title.
Since that stretch, however, Miller has fallen from superstar relief ace to middling reliever to borderline unusable. His 2021 was by far his worst as a reliever: His 10.0 K/9 was his lowest since 2012, while his 10.3 H/9 and 4.75 ERA were his highest since 2011. The man who many considered the most intimidating in the league was now getting battered around like few other pitchers in the game.
Besides the numbers, it’s clear just from the eye test that Miller is not the same guy anymore. His once-lethal fastball-slider combination is almost unrecognizable. His heater has fallen from 95.1 MPH in 2016 to 88.3 last season, while his slider has fallen six MPH over the same span. It’s no wonder why his K/9 has fallen by 4.5 over the previous five years.
Despite his rapid decline, Miller will continue to get chances for two reasons. First, even if he is a shell of his past self, he is still Andrew Miller, and name recognition and reputation alone will push some team to take a chance on him. The second reason he’ll get another opportunity is that he is still effective against same-side hitters. Lefties slashed just .182/.257/.288 against him, seemingly still overmatched by Miller’s underwhelming stuff.
In the age of one-batter minimum, Miller would be highly sought after for a LOOGY role (Left-Handed One Out Guy). But now that there is a three-batter minimum, Miller has no place on a contending team’s roster. Righties absolutely tee off of him, slashing .392/.489/.662. Miller simply cannot face righties, and in this day and age, that means he simply can’t pitch meaningful innings. The Red Sox should stay far away from the once-dominant lefty.