277 days have come and gone since Andrew Miller last took the mound as a starting pitcher in a Major League Baseball Game.
Tomorrow, that streak will come to an end.
Despite being a centerpiece in the Miguel Cabrera trade, many fans would be glad to see that number go past 278.
On July 13, 2008, Miller was removed from the mound at Dodger's Stadium after just one-and-two-thirds innings and giving up seven earned runs. These statistics do not lie about the pitcher's tendencies to give up hits, lack consistency, and get outs.
Already in his fourth year in the majors, and first as the No.5 starter for the Florida Marlins, "admirable" is not a word you would use to describe past rotation performance.
In the 2008 season, the 23 year old from North Carolina went 5-9 with a 5+ ERA to start the season before the All Star break and a stay on the disabled list. After he returned to the big leagues, his performance was not much better, giving up seven runs in just over six innings.
So far this year, Miller has been working out of the bullpen while Anibal Sanchez continued his return from an injury as the number four starter. Being relegated to the bullpen for a rehabilitating pitcher did not surprise the southpaw, though it seems to be a slap in the face to this writer.
In his two appearances thus far in 2009, he hurled two innings, notching a hold and giving up only one earned run on five hits for a 5.77 and a WHIP of 1.70. Unimpressive numbers in a small sample size, the few that saw the appearances have know there is more to beware of.
During the appearance on April 8th against the lowly Washington Nationals, Miller only needed to record one out in order to get the Fish out of danger. A handful of pitches later, Miller walked two batters, gave up one hit, and the first place Marlins narrowly escaped.
The next team the pitcher came in for was against the New York Mets three days later, and the soon-to-be Miami Marlins were not so lucky.
Extending his pitch count, Andrew went for two innings, in what amounted to a blowout win for the Mets, and gave up an earned run and four hits along the way. The only encouraging sign was that he did not hit or walk a batter.
Optimism is not easy to have when it comes to an Andrew Miller start, and that is coming from one of the biggest Marlins fans that you can find. The light at the end of the tunnel is that the lefty is 2-0 with a humbling 0.63 ERA against the Braves, whom he will debut against on Thursday. If ever there were a game to dump the pessimism, this would be the time.
Regardless, I am not ready to concede a game to the second place team in a strong N.L. East.
If Miller is on his A-Game on the 16th, he will not shed the labels on "inconsistent" or "promising," but it will go a long way towards establishing a better name for himself. The pitcher told beat reported Joe Frisaro that he does not wish to be seen as the soft spot in a promising, young rotation, but if scouts' handbooks are up-to-date they will know everything you read here.
Once a top prospect in the Tigers' system, Andrew Miller projected to be a top of the rotation fireballer. He has yet to emerge into this role in the bigs, but one can hope.
That train starts boarding at 7:10pm at Turner Field April 16th.