Could a Young Pitcher Find Consistent Success in the ‘Pen?

When the Red Sox traded for Andrew Miller prior to the 2012 season then-manager Bobby Valentine realized that the tall lefty may have more success if he were to become a reliever.

Miller who was drafted sixth overall in the 2006 draft out of the University of North Carolina, was rushed to the majors by the Tigers prior to being traded to the Marlins where he struggled as a starting pitcher never finding a consistent release point, which led to control issues.

Miller, who is 6’7″, was compared to familiar Hall of Fame name, Randy Johnson. Coincidently a young executive named Dave Dombrowski was part of the front office during Johnson’s stint in Montreal.

Johnson struggled early while in Montreal and was later traded to the Mariners where he was able to start finding success including winning the 1995 Cy Young award going 18-2 and that was the start to his soon to be Hall of Fame career.

Like Johnson, Miller was traded, but unlike Johnson, he continued to struggle with control and consistency. He averaged 42 walks while striking out 58.6% of the batters he faced over a three-year span in Florida.

In 2011, he was traded to Boston where he continued to pitch as a starter, before later in that season transitioning to the bullpen under then manager, Terry Francona.

Then in 2012, Bobby Valentine decided to turn Miller into a full-time reliever and in that first season as a reliever, he appeared in 53 games, pitching in 40.1 innings, striking out 51, and walking only 20.

As we know, the move has turned Andrew Miller from bust to dominant reliever.

Now, entering 2017, the Red Sox could once again take advantage of another left-handed pitcher – Eduardo Rodriguez. The young lefty was ironically traded for Andrew Miller in a deal with the Baltimore Orioles. Rodriguez’ inconsistency has been promoted by nagging injuries.

Rodriguez is clearly a talented pitcher, and is still reasonably young at only 25. If ERod was transitioned to the bullpen, Rodriguez may find consistency in velocity and location.

ERod’s velocity is a bit of an enigma as one day he will touch 91-92 and the next will dial it up to 94-96.

The ability is there for the young lefty, but the Red Sox may be able to capitalize on his value in the bullpen.

The Red Sox have a considerable hole in the bullpen with only Robby Scott as a left-hander. Presumably, the Red Sox will look to add a starting pitcher to the mix, allowing a potential experiment to take over.

If Rodriguez is able to put things together, he is far more valuable in the rotation, but if inconsistency continues, we could be looking at a potential Andrew Miller.

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