Re: What are your expectations for Andrew Miller. The Second Coming of Randy Johnson?
posted at 6/19/2011 6:58 PM EDT
Andrew Miller and Sandy Koufax? Koufax had control problems early in career.
From Wikipedia:Early years (1955–60)
Because Koufax's signing bonus was greater than $4,000 ($33,000 in current dollar terms), he was known as a bonus baby. This forced the Dodgers to keep him on the major league roster for at least two years before he could be sent to the minors. To make room for him, the Dodgers optioned their future manager, Tommy Lasorda, to the Montreal Royals of the International League. Lasorda would later joke that it took Koufax to keep him off the Dodger pitching staff.
Koufax made his major league debut on June 24 1955 against the Milwaukee Braves, with the Dodgers trailing 7–1 in the fifth inning. Johnny Logan, the first batter Koufax faced, hit a bloop single. Eddie Mathews bunted, and Koufax threw the ball into center field. Koufax walked Hank Aaron on four pitches to load the bases, then struck out Bobby Thomson on a full count.
Koufax's first start was on July 6. He lasted only 4 ⅔ innings, giving up eight walks. He did not start again for almost two months, but on August 27, Koufax threw a two-hit, 7–0 complete game shutout against the Cincinnati Reds for his first major league win. Koufax made only 12 appearances in 1955, pitching 41.7 innings and walking almost as many men (28) as he struck out (30). His only other win in 1955 was also a shutout.
During the fall, he enrolled in the Columbia University School of General Studies, which offered night classes in architecture. The Dodgers won the 1955 World Series for the first title in franchise history, but Koufax did not appear in the series. After the final out of Game Seven, Koufax drove to Columbia to attend class.
1956 wasn't very different from 1955 for Koufax. Despite the blazing speed of his fastball, Koufax continued to struggle with control problems. He saw little work, pitching only 58.7 innings with a 4.91 ERA, walking 29 and striking out 30. He was rarely allowed to work out of a jam. As soon as Koufax threw a couple of balls in a row, Alston would signal for a replacement to start warming up in the bullpen. Jackie Robinson, in his final season, clashed with Alston on several different subjects, including Koufax. Robinson saw that Koufax was talented and had flashes of brilliance, and objected to Koufax being benched for weeks at a time.
To prepare for the 1957 season, the Dodgers sent Koufax to Puerto Rico to play winter ball. On May 15, the restriction on sending Koufax down to the minors was lifted. Alston gave him a chance to justify his place on the major league roster by giving him the next day's start. Facing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, Koufax struck out 13 while pitching his first complete game in almost two years. For the first time in his career, he was in the starting rotation, but only for two weeks. Despite winning three of his next five with a 2.90 ERA, Koufax didn't get another start for 45 days. In that start, he struck out 11 in seven innings, but got a no-decision. On September 29, Koufax became the last man ever to pitch for the Brooklyn Dodgers before their move to Los Angeles, by throwing an inning of relief in the final game of the season.
Over the next three seasons, Koufax was in and out of the Dodger starting rotation due to injuries. In 1958, he began 7–3, but sprained his ankle in a collision at first base, finishing the season at 11–11 and leading the NL in wild pitches. In June 1959, Koufax set the record for a night game with 16 strikeouts. On August 31, 1959, he surpassed his career high with 18 strikeouts, setting the NL record and tying Bob Feller's major league record for strikeouts in one game.
In 1959, the Dodgers won a close pennant race against the Braves and the Giants, then beat the Chicago White Sox in the World Series. Koufax pitched two perfect relief innings in the Series opener, though they came after the Dodgers were already behind 11–0. Alston gave him the start in the fifth game, at the Los Angeles Coliseum in front of 92,706 fans. Koufax allowed only one run in seven innings, but lost the 1–0 game when Nellie Fox scored on a double play. Returning to Chicago, the Dodgers won the sixth game and the Series.
In early 1960, Koufax asked Dodgers GM Buzzie Bavasi to trade him because he wasn't getting enough playing time. By the end of 1960, after going 8–13, Koufax was thinking about quitting baseball to devote himself to an electronics business that he'd invested in. After the last game of the season, he threw his gloves and spikes into the trash. Nobe Kawano, the clubhouse supervisor, retrieved the equipment to return to Koufax the following year (or to somebody else if Koufax did not return to play).