Breaking Down Andrew Miller’s Dominant Start This Season

This offseason, the New York Yankees signed Andrew Miller to a contract to help their bullpen and replace David Robertson, whom they choose not to re-sign. Miller, along with flamethrower Dellin Betances, have a 0.00 ERA this season in 30+ innings, basically ensuring a win when leading after the 7th. The Betances-Miller combo has been a key reason for the Yankees success thus far this season. The Bronx Bombers currently sit atop the AL East standings; with a 3-game lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays.

Andrew Miller is currently in his 10th big league season, splitting last year between Boston and Baltimore. After signing with the Yankees, he was initially going to be the setup man for Betances, but that quickly flip-flopped after Miller proved how dominant he was. Miller has converted all 12 of his save opportunities this year, which leads all of baseball. Opposing batters are hitting just .063 (3-48) against him this year. Of those 48 batters he has faced, 25 have fell victim to the strike out. He has walked 8 batters this year, giving him a WHIP of 0.75. Miller also posts a 1.2 WAR is 14th best for pitchers, and 1st for relief pitchers in Major League Baseball. Now all these numbers are very impressive, but the real question is: how is he able to shut down major league hitters so effectively day in and day out? Not only is he able to just shut down hitters, he does so with only 2 pitches! The answer is a healthy mix of his fastball and slider, as well as hitting spots consistently with each pitch.

The 6’7’’ lefty has a tall and intimidating frame. With a 3/4th arm slot, it is difficult for hitters to pick up the ball out of his hand. Especially with the break his slider has, hitters are often fooled. Miller used to throw a sinker, changeup, and a cutter, but has disregarded those as of late. He has mastered his four-seam fastball as well as his slider to a point where hitters know what pitch is coming, and still are unable to hit it. Miller’s effectiveness of his small arsenal of pitches draws a resemblance to longtime Yankee closer Mariano Rivera, who racked up 652 saves primarily using a cutter and fastball. While Miller is no Rivera, he still is shutting down teams and collecting saves. Miller has done a great job of mixing up his pitches this year, throwing his fastball 50.8% of the time, and his slider 49.2% of the time. Miller’s fastball normally sits around 95 miles-per-hour, while his slider sits at 84 miles-per-hour, but breaks across the plate.

Because of his aforementioned arm slot, hitters are left at the plate practically guessing which pitch it’s going to come at them next. Even if they happen to guess correctly, they still have to guess the location as well as get their timing right to have a shot at getting a hit. Most of the time, the batters fall too far behind in the count and are back in the dugout before they know it, while the infield throws the ball around behind them. If Miller can continue nailing down wins for the Yankees, then the Bombers have a real good shot at playing in October.

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