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Cleveland Indians: The Andrew Miller effect on the bullpen

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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty /
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The Cleveland Indians bullpen has been a complete mess since Andrew Miller hit the disabled list, showing just how much he really means to the team.

Before Wednesday’s blowout victory, it had been a rough few days for the Cleveland Indians.

In the weekend series against Seattle and in the first two games of the series against Texas, their ever reliant bullpen had not been so reliant. A lot of this can be blamed on rust or being used heavily early on, but a big factor is the absence of Andrew Miller.

The Indians star relief pitcher hit the 10-day DL after suffering hamstring tightness last week against the Cubs. Jordan Bastian shared a particularly painful stat before Wednesday’s game.

Now not all of this can be pointed at Miller. Zach McAllister has had a rough start and even when Miller was healthy he wasn’t pitching well. His 9.58 ERA is among the worst in the Indians bullpen. Matt Belisle had allowed six earned runs in just seven games. That led to him losing his job.

All in all the bullpen has just struggled, and while one man can’t fix it, it raises an interesting question. Is the absence of Andrew Miller affecting the Indians’ mentally?

Numbers in Miller’s absence

Since Miller hit the DL almost a week ago some of the less experienced relief pitchers have struggled considerably. Tyler Olson allowed two earned runs in not even a full inning of work. Jeff Beliveau fared even worse against the Rangers allowing three runs without recording an out in relief of Mike Clevinger.

Cody Allen had to throw 41 pitches in the absence of Miller on Monday’s game against the Rangers, rendering him unable to pitch on Tuesday. While he earned the win, Beliveau had to come in to record the final out.

More than just the numbers

There could be more to Miller’s absence than just the sheer numbers show. Andrew provided veteran leadership for the Indians bullpen. The guys in the ‘pen felt that if they went out there and pitched a great sixth or seventh inning as they competed to be the “next Bryan Shaw,” then Miller and Allen could come in and clean up shop.

Without having Miller there to come in and work his magic in the eighth inning, it adds an extra level of pressure for the guys who have to come in and fill his shows. Pressure that guys like Olson, Beliveau and Dan Otero aren’t used to. This could be why the bullpen guys have struggled in close games. Even for Cody Allen, he may be feeling a more substantial load on his back.

Next: Prospect Shane Bieber promoted to Triple-A Columbus

The lack of Andrew Miller will likely be a huge hole for the Indians come next season should he leave. But if this a sign of things to come, someone needs to step up. Be it someone who is in the bullpen now, or a free agent replacement.

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