Boston Red Sox: Will Ben Cherington pull the trigger on Andrew Miller?

As it stands today, the Boston Red Sox have a 2.2 percent chance of making the playoffs.

This much we know.

What we don’t know yet is just how ready Ben Cherington is to move forward towards 2015 by opening up the hood and letting every other team in MLB take a look at what he’s got.

Many players on this still veteran-heavy Red Sox team have gauged interest from several clubs , but perhaps none more so than left-handed reliever Andrew Miller.

The former sixth overall pick and collegiate player of the year out of North Carolina, Miller is having his best season to date with career marks in K/9 (14.64), BB/9 (2.75), and ERA (2.52). He’s fanned 64 batters in just 39 1/3 innings pitched and has held opponents to a sub-standard .513 OPS. Hitters are essentially punchless with just a .177 average, just take a look at all the blue in this graph from Brooks Baseball:

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Hot/cold zones against Andrew Miller

Despite the tendency for people to assume that most left-handed relievers are specialists of some sort, this is not the case for Andrew Miller whose splits against both righties and lefties don’t show much drop off (.155/.210/.224 against LH vs. .193/.289/.277 against RH).

But what makes Miller so devastating — aside from the fact that he is a behemoth 6-foot-7 left hander with heat and a funky delivery — is actually his slider. He’s thrown the slider 261 times this season and only eight of them have gone for base hits; almost 25 percent of them have been whiffed at by opponents. If he gets ahead of a hitter 0-2, or 1-2, you can almost guarantee that nasty slider is coming and there’s still nothing a batter can do but head back to the dugout.

Miller’s success has been no secret.

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Andrew Miller could return a nice package of players if dealt by the deadline.

Both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves have targeted Miller, with Atlanta viewing him as their main option for bullpen help. With contending teams vying for anyway to gain an edge in their divisions, Miller could become a hot commodity among the MLB landscape as Thursday’s deadline approaches.

What makes things even more intriguing for teams is that Miller is set to be a free agent next season. Clubs won’t have to worry about being tied down to a long contract if they take him on, and from Boston’s perspective, the rental aspect makes the lefty easier to deal.

If Ben Cherington is serious about improving the Red Sox for 2015, then he must see the opportunities in front of him. If he can pull two major league quality arms for Jake Peavy, he can certainly manufacture more talent from perhaps the best reliever on the market.

I think we may have seen the last of Andrew Miller in a Red Sox’ uniform.


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