Miller rejoins workouts, in case he's put on Series roster
DETROIT -- While the Detroit Tigers were racing toward the World Series, it turns out first-round draft pick Andrew Miller was in a race of his own.
Miller, the 6-foot-6, 21-year-old left-hander who spent September with the Tigers, was in the Florida Instructional League, relearning how to throw strikes. The idea, apparently, was that Miller could help the Tigers in the World Series if they were matched against the mostly left-handed lineup of the New York Mets.
The Mets were facing elimination Wednesday night, but Wednesday afternoon Miller rejoined the Tigers, just in case. While no one with the Tigers would say for sure, it appeared that Miller would be added to the World Series roster in place of Zach Miner, but only if the Mets came back to beat the Cardinals.
"I don't know what the scenario is,'' Miller said. "All I know is they told me to be here, and I'm here.''
The Tigers strongly considered putting Miller on their original playoff roster, but he pitched his way off it with an inability to throw strikes, particularly to lefties. Ten of the last 13 left-handed hitters Miller faced reached base, seven of them on walks.
"Throwing strikes to everybody was a problem,'' said Miller, who walked 10 in 10 1/3 big-league innings. "I knew that, but I didn't do enough about it.''
That changed, Miller and the Tigers said, when he got to Florida and worked with Jon Matlack, the Tigers' roving minor-league pitching coach. Miller said Matlack helped him "iron out some minor mechanical things.''
Miller said he watched every Tiger playoff game on television.
"It looks like so much fun,'' he said.
While the St. Louis Cardinals had a 23-34 record when the opponent started a left-hander, they're actually a lot less vulnerable to lefties than the Mets. Of the Cardinals' top hitters, only Jim Edmonds bats left-handed, and the Cards have hit better against lefties than righties this postseason.
Leyland has so far declined to name the order of his starting pitching rotation for the World Series, saying it would be different depending on who the Tigers play. With two left-handers and two right-handers in the rotation, the Tigers could either have four starts from right-handers or four starts from left-handers in a potential seven-game series.
The Tigers went with two left-handed relievers (Jamie Walker and Wilfredo Ledezma) and five right-handers in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Adding Miller would give them a third lefty.
http://www.mlive.com/tigers/stories/ind ... xml&coll=1
Miller on the mound?
DETROIT -- The last time Andrew Miller was in the Tigers clubhouse, he was finishing out his first taste of the Major Leagues a few months after being drafted. His fate on the postseason roster had already pretty much been determined, and he was readying for the offseason. He looked relaxed, and he talked about being grateful for the opportunity.
On Wednesday, he was back in the Tigers clubhouse. He was still relaxed, but his season might not be over just yet.
"I'm kind of on call. That's the best way to put it," Miller said Wednesday before the team worked out at Comerica Park. "And I really don't know much. All I know is I'm here and I need to continue to do what they tell me."
All manager Jim Leyland would tell reporters was short.
"That's a possible roster decision, depending on who we play," he said.
Whether it's a legitimate option or a smokescreen, it throws something out there to consider. The 21-year-old who was the sixth overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft back in June could go from pitching in the College World Series to pitching in the World Series in the same year, something nobody has done since at least the advent of the draft in 1965.
The possibility of adding Miller would seemingly be an answer in relief against the Mets, whose ability to alternate left-handed and right-handed hitters in their lineup could force Leyland to use more relievers for one hitter at a time in later innings than he did in the previous two rounds.
Carlos Delgado and Cliff Floyd are obvious left-handed power sources, but right-handed-hitting David Wright hit 46 points lower against lefties in the regular season -- including just .209 with two homers in 86 at-bats after the All-Star break. Switch-hitting Jose Valentin batted just .219 versus lefties with two homers in 96 at-bats. Even slick-hitting switch-hitter Jose Reyes, while punishing southpaws in most situations all year, went just 3-for-14 off of them in the late innings of close games in the regular season.
Should Miller be added to the roster over a right-handed pitcher, the Tigers bullpen would have three lefties and three righties before closer Todd Jones. Moreover, Miller is more of a power thrower than a typical lefty reliever. His fastball-slider combination gives opponents a different look than what they would see from Jamie Walker or even Wilfredo Ledezma.
To be effective against anybody, though, Miller has to throw the ball over the plate, something he didn't do well. He walked 10 batters over 10 1/3 innings in his stretch-run appearance, including seven of 16 left-handed batters he faced.
"Throwing strikes to everybody was a problem this year," Miller admitted. "Walks kill you. I knew that coming in and didn't do enough about it. It might've been a different experience if I hadn't walked nearly as many people, but you live and you learn."
Those command struggles, and the potential that he could be useful if he solved them, were apparently one reason why the Tigers sent him to instructional ball after the regular season ended. He worked with pitching instructor Jon Matlack there on his control before making three instructional starts, totaling six innings.
"Just ironed out some minor mechanical things, trying to make it simpler," Miller said. "The simpler you are, the easier it is to throw strikes and repeat your delivery."
Miller saw every Tigers playoff game on television and was amazed watching the celebration. The only downside on the day he watched the Tigers clinch the ALCS was his beloved Florida Gators' loss to Auburn in football a few hours later.
"I went from a real high to a low," he said. "But I think that one game in the middle of the season for Florida doesn't compare to winning the ALCS."
A World Series appearance, of course, would top all of that. He watched the Marlins win Game 5 of the 2003 World Series, but from the stands. Pitching in one, as incredible as it sounds, has been on his mind.
"They told me all along that that's why I was down there, to stay in shape," Miller said. "Now I'm here to continue staying in shape, I guess."
http://detroit.tigers.mlb.com/NASApp/ml ... p&c_id=det