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Trever Miller, LOOGY Extraordinaire

We all remember the off-season saga that was the signing, un-signing, and then signing of Trever Miller.  To think, the Cardinals almost pulled the plug on the deal because of Miller's shoulder issue.  I can't even imagine where we would be in the standings without him consistently retiring left-handed batters (and occasionally some right-handed ones).

So, how good has Trever been this year?

Overall line:  42 appearances, 27.1 IP, 18 hits, 6 ER, 9 BB, 32 Ks, 6 holds, 0.99 WHIP, 1.98 ERA

Left-handed batters are 7 for 64 against Miller.  7 for 64!  That translates to a .109 average.  Of those 64 plate appearances, 29 have ended via the strikeout (with only 4 walks, to boot).  Even when you include appearances against right-handed batters, his K/BB ratio of 3.56 is outstanding.  His LOB% is pretty remarkable too, 87.7%.

Miller is poised to post his best season yet.  His lowest ERA was 3.02 in 2006 (with a WHIP of 1.09) as a member of the Houston Astros.  He appeared in 70 games that year, although I don't see him getting close to that this year.

In my opinion, there are a handful of reasons behind his success this year.

  1. Limited exposure.  Tony is not running him out there every night in an attempt to turn his arm into a noodle.  He's on pace to appear in 67 games, but those appearances have typically been limited to just 1 batter.
  2. Less fastballs, more sliders.  In 2007 and 2008 (ERA of 4.86 and 4.15, respectively) Miller was throwing his fastball close to 60% of the time.  In 2009, Miller has gone with the heater just shy of 50% of the time.  As for the slider, Miller threw it 13% of the time in 2007 and 17% of the time in 2008.  In 2009, Miller has thrown the 76 MPH (on average) slider 40% of the time.
  3. A more effective slider.  While his slider velocity has not changed over the past few seasons, it is breaking at a rate of -5.9 inches (horizontal movement).  He has also significantly decreased the vertical movement of the pitch, meaning there is less of a chance that he will throw a "humpy" slider a la Brad Lidge in 2005.  We all remember what happens to hanging sliders right?  They get deposited on the train tracks.  The pitch is moving vertically about 1 inch, as opposed to 4 inches in 2007 and 3 inches in 2009.
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