St. Louis Cardinals: Andrew Miller to begin rehab assignment
The St. Louis Cardinals are injured and struggling, but their top left-handed reliever appears to be getting close to returning.
Injuries are threatening to derail the St. Louis Cardinals’ season. They have had a plethora of players go on the injured list, leading to struggles this week in what has been one of their worst stretches of the regular season.
But left-handed reliever Andrew Miller is getting close to returning, as he began a rehab assignment Tuesday night with Triple-A Memphis.
Miller, 36, has been one of baseball’s best relievers for the last 16 seasons. He has a career 4.04 ERA with a 947/371 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 800.1 innings. His best seasons came with Cleveland from 2016-2018 where he produced a 2.22 ERA in 186/39 strikeout-to-walk ratio and when he became a free agent, signed a lucrative multi-year deal with the Cardinals.
Miller has not been the same pitcher, with his strikeout rate steadily declining in each season (13.6 SO9 in 2017; 11.1 SO9 in 2020). But his start to the 2021 season has been his worst, with a 8.59 ERA in 7.1 innings, before being placed on the IL with a toe injury.
The Cardinals badly need Miller to step up when he returns. Their 4.23 bullpen ERA ranks 18th in the majors and with Jordan Hicks on the IL, their depth has been tested. Alex Reyes has stepped up admirably in their absences, but his current workload (23 appearances in 48 games) appears unsustainable, even with the team making it clear before the season they envisioned Reyes pitching 100+ innings this season.
Throughout his career, Miller has proven to effectively pitch multiple innings, so he should take some of the load off Reyes once he returns. But for a team that is spiraling at the moment, and in danger of having the Chicago Cubs pass them for the National League Central lead, they could use all the help they can get.
And Miller returning, potentially at his previous elite form, would go a long way toward getting the team back on track.