Aye, if there’s ever a reason to Bob Barker something, we should do it. If not for me, then for the sake of the pets out there that aren’t spayed or neutered. (Look man, that title ain’t gonna tie itself into the post, amiright?) So despite the dated reference and lack of any mention of the Drew Carey epoch, we move on to relevant things, such as Bryce Miller and his very above-average season thus far. This of course either being the worst or best time to talk about it after an interesting soiree with the Yankees in which he pitched just 4 2/3 innings, allowing 11 hits and eight earned runs. Seeing as how I’m a Padres fan, I tend to see the cup half-empty, so this is most likely the worst time… but the fact remains that even after this start, Miller still retains a 3.00 ERA, 2.70 FIP with a pristine 0.75 BB/9 heading into his next start. Still very much a work in progress, Miller has already left his mark in just six career starts at the MLB level, with five of them being pretty darn good. But the shellacking by the Yankees should at the very least make us aware of what can happen when things get real. Talk about dated references…
A former fourth-round pick by the Mariners, this 24-year-old pitcher, as alluded to above, had a stellar debut. In his first three starts, he had struck out 18 in 19 innings, allowing just one run on just one walk and a measly seven hits. And this was despite a rocky Double-A stint before the call-up (6.41 ERA over 19.2 innings in four starts). One of the issues he’s had in the past was walks, but the fact that he had only issued three in those 19.2 innings was probably the catalyst for his MLB arrival.
Speaking of which, it’s been widely known that Seattle’s pitching development played a heavy hand in the success Miller had shown, helping iterate on his 95-97 MPH fastball and working on his secondary pitches. And it’s not like he was chopped liver before, as his fastball would have been considered pretty special without a competent development cycle. The pitch has immense spin, the velocity is obviously there, and the arm slot is pretty unique. And while it’s a bit of a homer quote, Scott Servais recently was quoted as comparing Miller to one Gerrit Cole, which I’m sorta okay with, after a fashion.
So let’s talk about the good stuff, I mean, I guess we already did in a way. Regardless, we all know what Miller had done before the Yankees start, and I think we can all conclude that it was fairly awesome. Everything you would want out of a top-50 starting pitcher was present. And I don’t mean to make it sound like he died or something, I believe the ingredients are still there to keep him an above-average pitcher. While the xFIP of 4.06 may show that regression towards Miller’s true-self (so very Aaron Rodgers) has yet to happen, the improvements in his walk rate the past two years and the low BB/9 in the 36 innings sample size are very encouraging. As with many pitchers, control is a huge determining factor in production, even more so with Miller based on the type of hurler he is. So that combined with his already nasty fastball and supporting secondary stuff should be enough to overcome bad starts like his last one.
Or is it? We’ve done the good, now the bad. While it’s true, I’m not shaking from a 4.06 xFIP, let’s just say that there are some red flags beyond that. While sustaining a BABIP of .227 is possible, I’m not quite sure where that true value is yet… even accounting for his MiLB numbers, you could say he should be around the .260 range, but I doubt we’ll really know until there’s more data. That combined with an extreme 29.6 GB% could spell disaster at points. As an expert analyst, you want the ball on the ground, not in the air. EXPERT ANALYST. And in terms of his last start, there are other red flags. So yeah, you know the part of this post where we hyped up his fastball? You should, it’s like 65% of the content, but check this out, in his struggles against the Yankees, Miller’s fastball seems to have been the culprit. He threw it only at a near-60% clip and just a 16% called strikes plus whiffs rate. For context, he had been throwing his fastball over 70% of the time, garnering a 25+ SwStr% and CStr%. Also at issue was the dip in velocity on his secondary pitches, with his curveball down 1.6 MPH (not major) and 1.4 MPH of his slider (pretty major).
It’s probably too soon to have any defining conclusions, but the wide-ranging ones appear to be a pitcher that has the stuff but doesn’t quite have the pedigree. Truly, this is a watch-and-see type of situation, but based on what we’ve seen AND if the Bryce is Right (see what I did there?), I’d rather watch and see him on my fantasy team than someone else’s.
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell.