Andrew Miller has something in common with Michael Jordan. After his junior year at the University of North Carolina, just about every pro team wanted the 6’7″ southpaw, who had gone 13-2 for the Tar Heels in 2006 with a school record 133 strikeouts. It was the Tigers who used the sixth overall pick in that year’s draft to grab Miller in the first round. While the Bulls front office is still giving thanks every day that the team picking ahead of them in Jordan’s draft year chose Sam Bowie, the team picking after the Tigers in Miller’s draft year got Clayton Kershaw.
Detroit rushed Miller to the big leagues and he got 13 starts for the Tigers in 2007. But that December, he became one of five prospects Detroit shipped off to Florida to get Melky Cabrera. The Gainesville, Florida native then spent three seasons trying to secure a permanent spot in the Marlins rotation but never did. In November of 2010, Miller was traded to the Red Sox for pitcher Dustin Richardson.
He got twelve starts for Boston in 2011 and won six of his nine decisions, but his ERA was a lofty 5.54 that year. In 2012, he was switched to the bullpen full time and has performed much better in that role. He got into 53 games as a reliever for Bobby Valentine’s 2012 ball club and posted an ERA of 3.35. He was then in the midst of putting together his best big league season last year when he tore ligaments in his foot and spent the second half of 2013 on the DL. His season ended with 37 appearances and a career-best ERA of 2.64.
He’s off to a decent start in 2014 and since he turns just 29 years-old today, he still has plenty of time to make his mark on the big league mound. He’s a strikeout pitcher with a dominant fastball. His problem has always been control. As a starter, he needed to get four different pitches to go where he wanted them to go. Coming out of the bullpen, he only has to focus on one or two. I think Miller’s best years may be yet to come.