Andrew Miller still searching for consistency in return from injury

Tribe bullpen's struggles continue as biggest piece does too

Alex Hooper
May 26, 2018 - 12:22 am
May 25, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians pitcher Andrew Miller, (left), gives the ball to Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona after giving up a two run hit to the Houston Astros during the eighth inning at Progressive Field.

© Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports


Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – No one in the Cleveland Indians bullpen can get the job done currently. Not even one of the best relievers in baseball over the last three years, Andrew Miller.

The six-foot-seven has looked to get his footing back after missing 17 days with a hamstring strain and struggling for his first three appearances thereafter. Following two scoreless outings in Chicago, Miller again struggled against the Houston Astros on Friday.

Relieving Corey Kluber with one out and the bases loaded in the 7th, Miller induced pinch hitter J.D. Davis into an inning-ending double play. He would not record an out in the 8th, allowing a leadoff double to George Springer, a walk to Alex Bregman, and a bases-clearing, game-tying double to Jose Altuve.

The pitch to the defending American League MVP was not a bad one, a slider low and on the corner, at the knees. The issues were more with falling behind 2-0 to Springer before piping a slider, then losing Bregman on five pitches.

“I just didn't throw any good pitches,” Miller said. “I wasn't very crisp. I was either behind counts -- obviously, I walked Bregman -- but even the pitches I got over the plate weren't very good.

“I'm definitely not sharp. I wish I had the answers. I'm looking for everything and working hard at it. I think there's flashes of it, but it's been a pretty big grind lately.”

The walks have been the issue, now six in 4 1/3 innings since coming off of the disabled list, but he is not wrong about the non-competitive pitches in the zone, like the slider to Springer.

Miller carried a 9.82 ERA since returning from the DL into Friday’s contest, and led with a 14.54 mark in that span.

Manager Terry Francona says he sees inconsistency in one of his most reliable options since acquiring the southpaw.

“It’s like he… every pitch is different, like he’s having a hard time being consistent with either his arm slot or his delivery. He’s scattering balls,” Francona said. “We all have seen him when he’s on a run and it’s bam, bam, bam. Now balls are kind of all over the place.”

The skipper may have a point about the arm slot. By all indication, there was not a ton of consistency with Miller’s release point on Friday. Compare his release point on Wednesday in Chicago (right) to Friday in Cleveland (left).

While subtle, you can see that the pitches against the Cubs seemed to stack on top of each other more, with a more sporadic look against the Astros. Paying mind to the descriptions, the pitches that Miller seemed to drop his arm when releasing were the ones put into play.

These could be effects of recovering and adjusting still from an injury, and they could be effects of the pressure trickling down from the rest of the bullpen’s struggles.

Unfortunately, until Miller rights his issues, the Indians may have nowhere to turn.