With the bullpen struggling this season, the Detroit Tigers are set to call up Justin Miller from Triple A Toledo, according to John Wagner of the Toledo Blade. The Tigers were in need of another bullpen arm, as Drew Smyly is set to return to the starting rotation.
Smyly was one of the few pitchers to actually pitch well out of the pen this season. He is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and six strikeouts over six innings pitched. Reliever Evan Reed has also not allowed a run through five innings pitched and Ian Krol has five strikeouts and a 3.60 ERA through five innings pitched, but those are the only relievers with an ERA under 5.00. Joe Nathan has blown two saves, Phil Coke has been a disaster on the mound and hitters are hitting over .300 off Al Alburquerque and Joba Chamberlain.
Miller has appeared in four games in Toledo and has yet to allow a run, recording a save and six strikeouts over 4.2 innings pitched.
This is Miller’s first season with the Tigers. Miller was a 16th round draft pick of the Texas Rangers back in 2008 and was with the team until he was released back in September. He had his best pro season in 2011 at Double A, going 9-1 with a 1.81 ERA in 48 games out of the bullpen, but followed that impressive season up by missing 2012 with Tommy John surgery.
Miller has struggled since, but the change of scenery looks to be a blessing for him. Although it is a very small sample size, Miller is putting up some great numbers and is getting his first call-up to the big leagues in his career.
With Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander coming off starts where they only lasted five innings apiece and Smyly likely to go only five innings in his first start, Miller could end up being a valuable option out of the pen. The reliever faces an opportunity to get a some extended innings, and he could be a candidate to take some of them. He could also be a sleeper candidate to fill in at the closer spot if Nathan doesn’t improve. Miller had 13 saves back in 2011 and added another three over his 27 appearances between Double A and Triple A last season.