Rotation straightened out – Andrew Miller stays

The Tigers have made some decisions on their rotation. Dave Dombrowski was on WXYT and said that Andrew Miller will remain in the starting rotation and Chad Durbin will move to the bullpen when Nate Robertson returns next week.

I certainly understand the desire to keep Miller in the rotation, he’s been quite good and quite frankly probably give the team the best chance to win right now. But I can’t help thinking back to last year when we kept hearing about how Justin Verlander had such a dramatic increase in innings. And remember how he had ot miss starts and he admitted to being fatigued? Well Verlander had those issues after a full season of professional ball. Miller doesn’t even have that.

I assume that Miller has an innings limit this year. I’ve asked the Tigers what Miller’s workload ceiling is, and they haven’t provided any information. I’ve also heard no mention of this from the beat writers. So I can’t believe that Andrew Miller is going to be in the rotation for the rest of the season.

Plus, I’d like to see Miller continue to work on his change-up in the minors, where he can work on it. Jeremy bonderman was rushed to the big leagues because there was no one else, and every year we hear how he needs to work on his change-up. Now in his 4th year he finally appears to have it. Why not give Miller the time to work on it now so he can be a dominant force next year?

I can understand the reasoning that Miller might as well throw those innings where he can help the team most. And I don’t think it’s been a bad idea at all to have him up here help when the injuries mounted. But the Tigers have gotten past that. They aren’t in a mode of desperation as is evident by the fact they traded 2 starting pitchers (I know Ledezma was pitching out of the pen, but the Tigers admitted they saw his future as a starter) this week. They can afford to let Miller develop and to not overwork him. I just don’t understand why they aren’t using that luxury.


  1. cib

    June 22, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    I agree. There is something about this entire situation that is disturbing me. If we’re wrong, and Miller can reach his potential without more work in the minors, well then that will be great. But if things don’t go as projected, the team can’t turn back the clock and get the ‘seasoning’ time back. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Thanks as always for your great comments.

  2. Sam

    June 22, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    I diagree.

    Miller has looked good and I’m sure they will only be looking for 5 innings each start. I’m sure he will skip a start or 2 in August.

    I would rather see Robertson in the Pen, but Durbin gives us another righty out there (Cheeseman, Fernando, and Jones have all been iffy). Durbin can still do the spot start also.


  3. Liaise fair baseball rules!

    June 22, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    I disagree Billfer. The kid is throwing great. Don’t be such a worry wort. Let him pitch. He doesn’t have the entire work load of a whole year with the Tigers. And I’m sure he’ll miss a few starts. Billfer man, were trying to win a world series here.

  4. CharlyStreetgang

    June 22, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    I have no idea why I posted “Liaise fair baseball rules” as a name. Disregard that.

  5. CharlyStreetgang

    June 22, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    I wish we could get that Pat Neshek from the Twins. That dude appears to be unhittable. The Twins always seem to have one middle reliever/set up man who is amazing every year. Rincon was sick a year or to ago (thanks to roids). Uh….why am i online talking about Twins middle relief on a Friday night….oh yeah…i don’t have a life.

  6. billfer

    June 22, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    Charly – He’s up to 89 innings this year. Whether they come at the major or minor league level, he’s still throwing the innings.

    I want to get back to the World Series too, but I want to be doing it for the next 3-4 years as well.

  7. Chris Y.

    June 22, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    My Dad met Warren Spahn in a bar in Oklahoma about ten years ago. He asked Spahn what the biggest change had been in the game, in relation to pitchers, between his time and present day. Answer: innings safeguards. Warren thought the innings guys pitch today are low and the efforts to protect arms a complete joke — even for guys pitching 200+. I agree. I’d really like to see some significant correlation between innings pitched and injury risk.

    I don’t think it exists.

    In fact, it always seems like more guys go down at the beginning of the year rather than late. That tells me that maybe the important thing is getting into the season without overthrowing and getting yourself hurt.

    Miller may be a wash at the #5 spot right now, but sending him down for the sake of arm protection is silly.

  8. Stephen

    June 22, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    I agree. Let him learn up here as long as he’s doing ok. The hard fact is one of these young pitchers IS probably gonna burn his arm out, it just happens. That doesn’t mean you pitch the kid 200 innings, but it’s the cost of doing business at this level. For every Glavine and Smoltz, you’re gonna have a Steve Avery. Sure, you monitor their innings and pitch counts, but this team’s window is now and 08. Rogers is old, Sheffield is old, Maggs’ knees aren’t gonna hold up forever. Unless you’re the Yankees or the Red Sox, it’s nearly impossible to be good for six to eight years–the Braves being an exception–you gotta go for it when you have the chance. And i would worry about the psychological damage of Miller getting boxed around, if Bonderman could survive his rookie days, this kid can do it with the benefit of having a veteran team behind him with a great offense.

  9. Stephen

    June 22, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    Sorry, meant to say ‘wouldn’t worry’

  10. Michael

    June 23, 2007 at 1:12 am

    I agree, if he is our #5 starter, let him play. And as Stephen said… if Bondo can turn into arguably our best pitcher, Miller can make it through [knock on wood]. And he has a lot better team around him.

  11. Mike R

    June 23, 2007 at 5:24 am

    I agree 100% with billfer. While his groundball and K rates are solid (something like high 60’s% for his professional career) he doesn’t need to be rush. I’ve stressed this ever since he came up; I don’t want him to be the answer to our causes this year at the expense of his growth as a pitcher. I’m behind Billfer 150%.

  12. Cameron in Singapore

    June 23, 2007 at 5:52 am

    Why have the Tigers been in such a rush to unload pitchers? Yes, with everyone coming back we have a surplus of starters, but isn’t that an okay problem? Why did we make two trades this week that really don’t bring any immediate help to the team? If we get a couple of more injuries, what will we do then? Then we’ll need more starting pitchers.

  13. Ryan S

    June 23, 2007 at 8:20 am

    I’m on Bilfer’s side of this argument. Durbin’s been doing a fine job in the number 5 starter slot. Miller’s been good, but at the major league level he’s just going to have to go with what he’s got. He won’t be working on new pitches to major league hitters. People are talking about how Bonderman toughed it out through his rookie season. But let’s not forget, he posted a 5+ ERA that year.

    I’d rather see Miller sent down and kept on a strict innings limit. Then he could be called back up in September and be a potential add to the playoff roster (and still have some gas left in the tank).

  14. ron

    June 23, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Bilfer, you are a worry wart. Miller needs to be in this environment now.They’ll keep an eye on him. Being under fire now will make it that much easier later.

  15. Kurt

    June 23, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Cam — They’re unloading ineffective pitchers they had no hope of being able to keep in the system and the inability to carry on the team.

    All — I am as concerned as the next guy over Miller’s growth, but I do believe as long as they watch his arm, he’s better off in Detroit than Erie. Look at his teachers up there. A major league pitching coach, Kenny Rogers with a wealth of knowledge that’s probably better than any pitching coach, Verlander and Bonderman helping him learn how to be a young star and adjust to the new experiences, Robertson being (sort of) a power lefty… it’s just a really supportive environment that I think he couldnt have gotten in Erie. And he’s contributing every five days or, in an instant, he’d be back in Double-A. I’m OK with the move. I’m sure they have contingency plans.

  16. Ed in OR

    June 23, 2007 at 11:42 am

    I too am sorry to see Ledezma go, especially after last night when he fanned three in a row, but if Miller has a better potential then I guess this trade is worth it. My main concern this entire season has been that the front office has been messing with what worked last year (or at least most of it). The pitching has been great and the entire team seems to be finally coming together, but I question changing any of the pitchers. With established pitchers like Maroth being traded in the hope of getting arms and players that can be developed into stronger players I see the future logic of making sure the team is good for years to come. But, I don’t understand why the Tigs wouldn’t try building the values of Maroth and Ledezma value a bit more over the course of this year to seal even better deals.

  17. Mike F

    June 23, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Miller has 89 inning pitched already. Assuming a limit of 170 inning as a limit and 6 innings per start, that gives him another 14 starts. So he would get shut down in about mid-September (much like Bondo in ’03) if they don’t skip a couple starts.

  18. Stephen

    June 23, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    I’m not sure what you mean by messing with what worked last year. The bullpen, statistically, is one of the worst in the majors. For every strong outing Ledezma has had, he’s had an equally mind-boggling meltdown. Maroth is a good guy, but was perhaps the 7th best starter on the team and with his arm problems wasn’t a candidate for bullpen conversion. Maybe he’ll rebound after another year, but you just can’t carry him without a role. So, I don’t have a problem with the subtractions, I just want there also to be additions.

  19. Joey C.

    June 23, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    I agree with Chris Y that the orthodoxy that says you protect an arm by limiting innings pitched (or pitches for that matter) is not demonstrably accurate. Although Spahn may not be the most reliable source because he was a complete freak of nature and his opinion was no doubt largely informed by his personal experience.

    I also agree that Miller could probably use more seasoning in the minors before being brought up full-time.

    It’s a complicated issue to look at and their are pluses and minuses to keeping him on the big league club to be sure.

    Selfishly, I really enjoy watching him pitch, so I’m glad he’s sticking around.

  20. KS

    June 23, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    I like the idea of Durbin in the bullpen as he has the ability to miss bats a bit more often than many of our relievers. As Ledezma and Maroth go, they were a nice luxury to have, but a few had to go down to the minors to make room for Robertson and Rogers, obviously it seemed Miller would have made a nice option, and when one of the starters inevitably got hurt or struggled he would have been a nice jolt to bring into the rotation. The Tigers for once have been able to stockpile pitching, to bad baseball rules preclude a team from keeping them all like in the old days. But they seemed to have set there sights on a rotation built around Verlander, Bonderman, Miller, and Rogers (or another free agent when Rogers moves on). That’s a nice start to having a competitive team far into the future.

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  22. JML

    June 23, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Bilfer is right on. Miller is still gaining his form and learning his pitches. Give the kid a season in the minors, that’s why we have them. I like Durbin back in the bullpen, too. It needs that kind of reinforcement.

  23. Mike R

    June 24, 2007 at 2:04 am

    I get that he can learn from guys like Rogers, Bonderman, and Verlander, but I’d like for Miller to have a stable of pitchers resembling Verlander more then just Bonderman. It’s taken 5 years for Bondo to be comfortable with a change-up and be able to use it effectively 5 times an outing. Verlander can command all 3 pitches and I’d prefer that Miller get more time in the minors to season his change up. Is he good enough with those two pitches to be a No. 4-5 starter right now? Yes.
    Could he be DOMINANT when/if he masters a change-up/becomes more comfortable with the change in the minors over the rest of this year? Absolutely.

  24. Stephen

    June 24, 2007 at 2:53 am

    Well, i think everyone is overthinking this and still approach the Tigers like they’re a college program who should be redshirting guys.

    Is Miller one of the Tigers’ ten best pitchers? Yes. Will he get regular work? Yes. Will they send him down if he struggles? Yes.

    This is a team sport about winning championships. I’ll say this again: I-Rod’s caught nearly 2000 games, Rogers is 42, Sheffield is 38, Maggs has surgically repaired knees. The window is now.

    Miller will sink or swim at this level, that’s why they gave him a big bonus. ‘Developing’ players slowly is the one luxury given to sucky teams. We’ve lost that, but I think we’d all agree it’s been worth it.

  25. billfer

    June 24, 2007 at 8:16 am

    I’m not worried about him struggling. I think he’ll do fine and give better innings than Mike Maroth did. So I get that he gives the best chance to win.

    But the Tigers are a good team with depth. Developing players is a luxury they do have more than bad teams. They don’t need to rush players to create excitement and sell tickets. They don’t need to rush players because there simply is no one else. That was 2003.

    Again, I’m fine with him getting a taste and filling in when the team was short on arms. We saw how good he is with only 2 pitches, and we also saw that he has no confidence in his 3rd pitch and it still needs refinement so he can be the dominant force that Verlander is.

    I won’t get into whether or not it makes sense to use inning limits or pitch counts. There isn’t conclusive evidence either way and so it comes down to anecdotal stories of how Nolan Ryan and others can throw over 300 innings and how Dusty Baker did Kerry Wood and Mark Prior no favors. Me, I’ll err on the side of caution.

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