Manager John Farrell expects to have all his relievers except left-hander Andrew Miller available Wednesday night against the Reds for the finale of the eight-game homestand. Miller pitched two scoreless innings, with a season-high four strikeouts, in the Red Sox 12-inning win on Tuesday.
It was his 14th scoreless outing in 16 games this season.
In 14 2/3 innings this season, Miller has allowed three earned runs for a 1.84 ERA, with a 1-0 record and a WHIP of 0.89. At Fenway Park, he has allowed just one run over 10 innings, for an ERA of 0.90.
In 10 2/3 innings over his last 10 games, he has recorded 16 strikeouts with no walks, for a 13.5 strikeouts-per-nine innings pitched ratio in that span.
He has held lefties to a .105 average (2-for-19) while righties are hitting .206 (7-for-34) for an overall .170 average.
On Tuesday, he entered in the 10th inning, facing three straight right-handers beginning with Brandon Phillips, the Reds No. 3 hitter. He allowed just one baserunner, on a two-out error in the 10th by third baseman Will Middlebrooks on Ryan Ludwick’s grounder. But Miller struck out Skip Schumaker looking at a 95-m.p.h. fastball to end the inning.
His performance so far this season could see him taking on the set-up role at some point, manager John Farrell said.
“Yes. You look at what he did last night against the heart of that order and that's not the first quality right-handers he's been able to put away,” Farrell said. “You look at the last year and a half plus and he's been equally good against right-handers and even better against left-handers. His breaking ball has tightened up and he's thrown a high percentage of strikes from outing four to date.”
Miller needed just 25 pitches in his two innings last night, 19 for strikes, an impressive 76 percent. Overall, he is throwing 67 percent of his pitches for strikes.
“There was a time last year he was on an equal run (with strike-throwing),” Farrell said. “We know it takes him first two or three weeks of the season before it clicks. He's simplified his delivery. He's throwing with a lot of confidence. He can hit bats and he can get away with middle of the plate because of his high velocity.”
Miller could also be a closer candidate, if needed, Farrell said.
“If the situation were to come up, I wouldn't hesitate, given the way he's throwing,” Farrell said. “On a certain day anybody can be a candidate, but his stuff does match the traditional role of a closer with his power stuff and his strike out ability.”