For over 3 years, Tribe fans have been hearing about Adam Miller, but we have yet to see him. Maybe that time has come…
The name Adam Miller is usually accompanied by either “Indians super-prospect” or “will miss another start”. The 2003 draft pick has been the Indians top prospect ever since his 2004 campaign at Lake County. In 2006 he was the AA pitcher of the year. But a variety of injuries have slowed his ascent to Cleveland. That and all the other starting pitchers the Tribe has.
Adam has 3 pitches, a mid to high 90’s fastball, a change-up and a wicked slider. There are concerns throughout the organization about his surgically repaired elbow, specifically whether or not it will hold up throughout an entire season. When healthy, there is no question that Miller is possibly the most dominating starter in the minors. The problem of course is that he hasn’t stayed healthy.
Miller participated in extended spring training because blisters prevented him from throwing much during the regular spring ritual. He is reportedly ready to go, and will start Wednesday night for Buffalo. The question that comes to mind is this- should Miller continue to be prepared as a starer? Ross Atkins, who is the director of player development was asked the question, and he deferred to higher sources-
“That’s a good question for Mark or Eric,” said Atkins. “Our job in player development is to develop him as a starting pitcher.”
Certainly the topic has been mentioned before, in fact The DiaTribe did a great piece on Miller earlier this year, breaking down his mechanics. (By the way, my man-crush on the DiaTribe is waning since they won’t return my emails…still Paul offers the best analysis of the Indians.)
Interestingly, the hitch in Miller’s delivery is not all that dissimilar to that of Jensen Lewis who, after a move to the bullpen from his role as a starter (38 minor league starts over 2 seasons) at the beginning of 2007, thrived in his role as a reliever down the stretch for the Tribe. Whether the move was made to protect Jensen’s arm, if he lacked the number of pitches necessary to be a viable MLB starter, or it was simply a matter of someone making the suggestion that his stuff would translate well out of the bullpen will likely never be known. But it sets a precedent, as Lewis (like Rafael Perez before him) was a highly-thought-of pitcher whose transition to the bullpen helps the team in the present, not perhaps at some point in the future.
So what is best for the Indians? Do we continue to wait for Miller to be ready to take a spot in the rotation? Will his arm hold up for a complete major league season? Do we give him a little time in Buffalo, say a couple weeks and bring him up for bullpen duty? Considering the bullpen’s struggles against the performance of the Indians’ starters that don’t have Cy Young awards, I’d say the bullpen is the area that is most in need of a shot in the arm. While Lewis may have been a starter turned reliever for the Tribe, what about reliever turned starter Fausto Carmona? While not the traditional way to do things, the Indians found out that Fausto was a better starter than reliever. Why not see if Miller has the make-up of a closer? We haven’t used any options on him yet, and you know that he is all but assured a spot on the roster next season, unless his arm blows up this year.
It sounds to me like the same issue that the Yankees are facing with Joba Chamberlain. While the Yankees owner may think that ‘everyone in the world’ agrees Joba should be a starter, Jason Stark doesn’t agree.
Sorry, there’s no way — none — the Yankees can move this man to the rotation right now. How can they take their best pitcher and send him to Scranton to build him up? And who sets up for Rivera if they do that? Who gets (ahem) yanked out of the rotation? If it’s Hughes or Kennedy, what does that say about them and their future?
And to be honest, not everybody is even convinced that Chamberlain’s best role long-term (let alone short-term) is as a starting pitcher. That’s my view.
I know that many are probably thinking that we need a starter to replace Sabathia next year should he leave for greener pa$tures. Well, so be it. But who’s to say that Miller couldn’t be that guy next year? What if Miller does show potential for being a dominant closer? Which would you rather have? Seems to me that we have an abundance of young starters in Buffalo. None may match Miller’s potential, but none of them have had the history of arm problems Miller has either. I say the time is now. Let’s see if Adam can be an effective set-up man or closer. What do we have to lose?