Andrew Miller came into the big leagues as a highly touted starting pitcher. He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers sixth overall in the 2016 MLB draft, and he had all the makings to be an All-Star. He was tall and lanky with a hard fastball and a devastating curveball.
However, as a starter, Miller struggled. With an ERA ranging from 4.84 to 8.54 in five seasons, Miller was slowly losing his spot as a pitcher in a big-league rotation. After being traded to the Red Sox in 2010, and after struggling as a starter for them in 2011, the Red Sox moved Miller to the bullpen.
This move may have saved his career.
As a reliever, Miller blossomed into the pitcher everyone thought he could be when he was drafted in the first round. After putting up a 3.35 ERA in 2012, Miller’s ERA then decreased the next four seasons. By 2014, Miller posted a 2.34 ERA with the Sox, and he was considered to be one of the best relievers in baseball. However, because the Red Sox did not want pay for him next season, they traded Miller to the Baltimore Orioles. In the second half of the 2014 season with Baltimore, Miller posted an astonishing 1.35 ERA.
After signing with the New York Yankees the next year and ultimately ending up with the Indians a couple of years later, Miller is thought to be one of the most dominant relievers in baseball today. Last season, Miller was 4-3 with a 1.44 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. He is considered to be a lethal weapon for the Indians, and when he comes in during the middle of the game with a lead, it seems over.
The Red Sox have to be kicking themselves for not signing Miller to an extension back in 2014. Middle relief has been a struggle for the Red Sox, and Miller could have made all of the difference.
Like Miller back in 2014, Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly is a free agent after this upcoming season. If the Red Sox have learned anything in the last few years, they will re-sign Kelly.
Kelly, like Miller, began his career as a starter. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the third round in 2009, and unlike Miller, Kelly actually had success as a starter early in his career. After posting a combined 3.70 ERA with the Cardinals as a starter, Kelly was traded to the Red Sox in 2014.
Known, like Miller, as a hard thrower with a good breaking ball, Kelly struggled as a starter with the Sox. After posting a 4.82 ERA in 2015 and a 5.18 ERA in 2016, Kelly was moved to the bullpen at the end of the 2016 season, where he showed some glimpses as a solid relief pitcher.
Last season, Kelly was fantastic. In 54 appearances, he was 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA. With a fastball that can reach 102mph, Kelly had moments when he was absolutely electric.
Kelly is 29 years old. When the Sox traded away Miller, he was also 29 years old. Will Kelly be as dominant as Miller?
It’s hard to say. However, the stuff is there, and he proved last year that he can be a reliable late-inning major league relief pitcher. There is no reason why Kelly can’t and won’t be as dominant as Miller.
Some advice to the Red Sox: re-sign Joe Kelly. If they don’t, it could come back to bite them for many years to come.