When your team is not in the postseason, finding something to latch on to, someone to root for, is important. Of course, it’s certainly much more relaxing and less nerve-wracking when it isn’t your team going through a grueling, five-hour-long elimination game, but it’s still a little stale to view these games as a completely neutral observer.
That’s why I love Andrew Miller. The former Yankees closer and super reliever has since become the relief ace for the Cleveland Indians, and in the best possible spot for Yankees fans: opposing the Boston Red Sox.
Miller was, without question, the most talented reliever on the Yankees since the beginning of his tenure in 2015, and he only got better. He was a fan favorite, not only because of his performance, but also because of his character, personality, and willingness to do anything to help the team succeed. To have him closing out a series against Boston, a season in which they were essentially seen as unbeatable is all the more satisfying.
here's to hoping my Slack prediction comes true pic.twitter.com/LmFF73vZf6— Matt Provenzano (@mattprov94) October 11, 2016
I wrote this prediction back on October 2nd, and I was close to being right! Of course he didn’t end the series, because he pitched in the middle of the game, but he played a crucial role.
INNINGS PITCHED THIS SERIES— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) October 11, 2016
Rick Porcello 4.1
David Price 3.1
Clay Buchholz 4
Andrew Miller 4
Amazing. In four innings, and with 16 batters faced, he struck out seven. He allowed just two walks. As far as win probability, he was worth 0.24 WPA, which is most certainly underrated by the actual reality of the situation. He was used in the middle innings of both games one and three, and did not close out a single game. That is how a reliever should be used, though, because leverage in the playoffs is somewhat of an illusion. Teams should use their best pitcher when he’s available.
This is another story line that elates Yankees fans like myself, because I think many of us would have loved to see Miller used as a fireman reliever even as far back as a year ago. Watching him take on that role, against the Red Sox no less, makes me even more excited to watch Miller down the road.
To put a cherry on top of all of this, Miller will face the Blue Jays in the ALCS. Toronto has consistently been a thorn in the Yankees’ side for the past two seasons, so watching Miller continue his rampage against yet another AL East rival would make the postseason even more exciting for a fan base that finds itself on the sidelines.
It isn’t going to be easy, of course. The Blue Jays have been firing on all cylinders in the postseason, but they do have a slight platoon disadvantage against left-handed pitching.
There are quite a few former Yankees players to root for this postseason, but there’s something special about Miller. I will root for Miller as long as he isn’t facing the Yankees, and I will cheer my heart out as he faces the Blue Jays. Just as I wished he would close out a sweep of the Red Sox, I’m hoping that he finishes a sweep of Toronto. We can share in his joy, and it will hearken back to a time when that joy was ours, and in pinstripes.