The Boston Red Sox had an absolutely amazing season that basically came out of nowhere. One of the reasons that Boston achieved the success that they did was due to the work of their bullpen which clicked down the stretch and got hot at exactly the right time. However, the Red Sox were missing one of their most important weapons, left-hander Andrew Miller, who went down in July with a foot injury and missed the rest of the season.
It is unfortunate that Miller got injured when he did, because he was starting to blossom into a very important piece of the Boston bullpen, ending his season with a 2.64 earned run average with 48 strikeouts and 17 walks. He became one of the most dominating left-handed relievers in the MLB. His loss was never really able to be filled. Boston went out and acquired Matt Thornton, who ended up being pretty disappointing and certainly did not come close to the domination that Miller was able to provide.
A lot of Miller’s success in the bullpen has been due to the fact that he no longer uses a windup, which is what he was doing when he was struggling as a starter. Considering he is rather tall, it would appear his mechanics are complex, so the fact that he pitches from the stretch eliminates a lot of control issues that he was having. It is funny when it comes to left-handers and how it seems like they can struggle for a period of time and then all of a sudden, they seem to figure it out. Sandy Koufax was like that. A more recent example would be Randy Johnson. After a conversation with Nolan Ryan, Johnson turned the corner and grew into the most dominating pitcher of his day.
Not saying Miller will have a career like that, however, with the stuff that he has and the fact that he is all arms and legs and he is just wild enough where batters might be a little bit intimidated facing him, makes him an excellent reliever and a serious weapon for the Boston bullpen in 2014. As well, because he was injured for most of the season, his arm still has a lot of bullets left and he may be able to hit the ground running which would be huge for the Red Sox in the start of the season. It would be great for John Farrell to have another arm that he can trust.
We all know how bad of a job that Bobby Valentine did in 2012 managing the Red Sox. It could be known as Operation Train Wreck. However, one thing he did do quite well was putting together a decent bullpen and he did see something in Miller who had really not had much success as a starter at all throughout his career. Hopefully, he can come back this season and continue what he started last year. That could go a long way in Boston trying to make another championship run in 2014.