Cleveland Indians Relief Ace Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller spent his first five full seasons in the major leagues as a mediocre starter, never having an ERA+ higher than 89 from 2007 through 2011. In 2012, at the age of 27, he converted to full-time reliever (and went to the stretch full time at the suggestion of Bobby Valentine) and showed signs of finding his stride, putting up an ERA of 3.35 (ERA+ of 127) for the Boston Red Sox that year. The next season he stepped up to excellence (ERA 2.64, ERA+ 158 in 2013), and then has improved even more to complete dominance (ERA+ of 198, 200, and a jaw-dropping 310 in 2014, 2015, and 2016 respectively). His flexibility, and Cleveland manager Terry Francona’s willingness to pitch him in almost any inning, makes Miller a formidable weapon out of the Cleveland bullpen. In the 2016 post-season to date, Miller has continued his dominant run, allowing just six hits and no runs in 11 2/3 of the highest-leverage innings of six games.

What he throws:  Four-seam fastball (“FF”) and slider (“SL”).

Pitch usage and trends: Miller throws slightly more sliders (60.6% of his pitches) than four-seam fastballs (39.5%). His four-seam fastball velocity is well above average at 95.0 mph, and he can dial it up to nearly 98 mph when he needs to; his fastest pitch of the season was 97.7 mph.

Miller hardly changes his repertoire whether he is ahead or behind in the count, and only changes it slightly depending on batter handedness: He throws 69% sliders to left-handed batters, and 57.7% to righties. Lefties hit marginally better against him, but their numbers (OPS against of .523) are only good relative to righties (OPS of .474):

Pitch value: Both of Miller’s pitches are well above average both in terms of total bases per 100 pitches, and number of balls per 100 pitches:

Pitch location: The charts below show the typical locations of Miller’s pitches. His fastball is spread over most of the strike zone; even though a typical location is down the middle of the plate, Miller uses the entire zone for this pitch. His slider typically ends up just outside to left-handed batters, or just on the inside corner to righties, but in both cases he also can locate the pitch as a strike to the opposite side of the plate:

Follow Ian on Twitter @iayork

Featured image courtesy of Matt Stone.