Andrew Miller, LHP, Indians
What’s up: When the Rockies play a two-game series at Cleveland that begins Tuesday, they won’t have to worry about facing Miller, the left-handed ace of the Indians’ bullpen. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday because of right-knee tendinitis. Manager Terry Francona said an MRI confirmed the diagnosis. Francona told reporters that Miller had been bothered by knee soreness “for months.”
Background: Miller, with Francona drawing up the blueprint, helped reinvent the relief role. Rather than use Miller as a closer, Francona used him as a multi-inning fireman, calling him in from the bullpen when the game hung in the balance, not simply in the ninth inning. En route to being named the MVP of last year’s American League Championship Series, Miller accounted for five outs in Game 1, six in Game 2, four in Game 3 and eight in Game 5 — all victories over Toronto. It was a performance for the ages: Three hits allowed, 14 strikeouts, no walks and one save over 7L innings.
Saunders’ take: Funny, isn’t it, that we talk about pitchers’ arms all the time? Shoulder problems, dead arms and elbow pain that conjures up warnings of Tommy John surgery are our main focus. Sometimes we forget that the whole body is involved in those 95 mph fastballs and high-torque sliders. But knee problems made Rockies lefthander Jake Mcgee ineffective last season and back issues messed with lefty Mike Dunn earlier this season. Dunn only recently has gotten back on track. Miller’s walk rate climbed this summer as his knee pain flared. He had walked 10 batters since midjune, after walking only nine during the entire 2016 regular season. Still, his ERA is a stellar 1.67 — and his return will be key for the Indians’ postseason hopes.