In another quality start, Miller held the PawSox to two runs over six innings while just missing out on the complete game. This has got to go down as Adam's most efficient start of the season and one in which he would look to build on going forward. The one thing that is worrisome about this start is the lack of strikes which Adam threw, something Lovullo touched on in the post game press conference (below). This same lack of control is something that would cause Miller a lot more trouble in the majors and may be something that keeps him in Triple A all season.
This, however, would hurt Miller's shot at making a bid for the bullpen down the stretch, a position Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer believed was to be Miller's ticket to the bigs for 2008. That is, if a pitcher cannot throw strikes in the first inning when they have some leeway in terms of allowing base runners and consequently runs, how will he make an impact with the bullpen.
What is most alarming in my estimation is the amount of hitters Miller is starting off with a ball. Against the PawSox on the 15th Miller started three of the first six hitters off with a ball. One of the three that had a strike swung at a pitch that looked to be well out of the zone. Interestingly, two of the three that started the at bat out with a ball ended up on base.
The second and third innings saw Miller be around the plate where he racked up his first strikeout. Still, even in Miller's best inning he started a third of the hitters off with a ball.
In the forth inning, Miller's inability to finish off a hitter could have easily been exposed. What is interesting about this inning is the ability of the hitters to not chance pitches out of the strike zone. That is, a pitcher with the kind of stuff that Miller possesses should be able to trick hitters more frequently. What this tells me is that Miller is not being very deceptive and is being too predictable. Throwing a slider in certain counts and staying away form it in others. This could be a lack of confidence in the pitch, or a worry that his injury may sneak back up.
The fifth inning MiLB Gameday data shows that Miller was extremely close to the zone with all of his pitches. Despite starting two of three hitters out with balls Miller was just missing. Again, the concern about being unable to fool hitters arises, as Miller is not going to continue to have such fortune with balls in play in every start. That is, however, unless Miller is doing such a good job at tricking hitters that they are unable to put good wood on the balls.
Much the same in the sixth inning, with two of the three batters Miller faced taking the first pitch for a ball. The hitters appeared to be seeing the ball quite well at this point, as they were taking a lot of early swings and connecting. Fortunately for Miller, the balls were hit directly to his fielders.
While the control for Miller still is not there and the strikeout rate does leave a little to be desired Miller is inducing a good number of ground balls. The line drive rate is not out of this world and he is obviously doing something right to own a 0.0 home run per fly ball rate.
Check out Torey Lovullo's post game press conference, here where he comments on Miller's start and briefly touches on the struggles Miller has endured to this point.