The Indians and Blue Jays did not play Sunday, which means Andrew Miller, perhaps the most important player in this American League Championship Series, had a day off and will be rested for Game 3 Monday night in Toronto.
Could be trouble for the Jays, who already are trailing in the best-of-seven series, two games to none.
Miller, the former Yankee reliever, has been spectacular this October, throwing 7-2/3 scoreless innings in four appearances. The lefty has held opponents to a .120 average and a .379 OPS, striking out 17 and walking only two.
It’s enough to make Pedro Martinez, who knows a thing or two about pitching, gush about Miller on Twitter. Martinez, an analyst for TBS, wrote: “I have been in many postseasons and hadn’t seen anybody dominate like Andrew Miller.”
Against Toronto, Miller fanned five hitters in Game 1 in an appearance lasting 1-2/3 innings and then struck out five over two innings in Game 2. He’s the first pitcher to get five strikeouts in an outing of two innings or less twice in postseason play, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
His vaunted slider has been especially good. According to fangraphs.com, 31 of the 55 pitches he’s delivered to the Jays have been sliders. Toronto hitters have swung at 16 of them, missing 12 times.
Asked why Miller’s slider is so good, a scout from another team offered this assessment:
“His long, lanky body gives him a high down angle and there’s some deception in his delivery with those long arms and legs.”
That, the scout added, helps give Miller’s slider a “big sweep-across break…Hitters get that into their heads and that’s half the battle for him.”
Andrew Miller has been the most dominant player in the AL playoffs, and might be the biggest difference-maker in the entire postseason.
(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Miller, who is 6-foot-7, releases the ball closer to the plate, added an executive from a different team. “So his velocity plays better than the gun readings,” the executive said. Miller’s fastball is generally clocked in the mid-90s (miles per hour), though he can crank it into the high 90s, too.
The Jays know what they’re up against. Toronto manager John Gibbons told reporters Sunday in Toronto: “To be honest with you, if he’s on there’s not a lot you can do with him. He’s proved that over the last few years. We saw him a little bit with the Yankees. He’s got an overpowering fastball. And he’s got that incredible slider. If he’s throwing strikes, there’s a lot of swing and misses, disappearing slider.”
When Miller is in the game, it might come down to hope over adjustments, Gibbons said.
“As far as adjustments, I don’t know, because I don’t think anybody’s made them all year in the league,” Gibbons said. “I don’t think anybody made them last year in the league. He’s on, and he’s one of the dominating forces. You’ve got to keep battling, really. Maybe he’ll leave a pitch up, maybe you’ll find a hole, you’ll squib one off the end of the bat, maybe you’ll catch one just right, hit a long way. But he’s pretty good.”
Miller’s teammate, Game 3 starter Trevor Bauer, joked that there are “too many good things to say about the guy to say in a press conference.” Bauer even invoked the name of another tall, skinny lefty when talking about Miller’s stuff:
“Reminds you a lot of Randy Johnson’s repertoire,” Bauer said.
In 70 outings between Cleveland and the Yanks this season, Miller was 10-1 with a 1.45 ERA and struck out 14.9 batters per nine innings. A national audience is seeing why the Yankees were able to get what’s generally considered in the baseball industry to be a huge package of prospects for Miller, including the highly-touted Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield.
That audience is also seeing why the deal was worth it for the Indians.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News