Bryce Miller is off to arguably the best start in both Mariners and MLB history through three outings, after a stellar effort in Detroit.
When Bryce Miller was first called up by the Mariners earlier this month, scouting reports had generally been positive from his time in the Minors. Still, fans could have been forgiven for being a bit apprehensive.
This was due to Miller’s struggles through four starts this year in Double-A, with an 0-2 record and 6.41 ERA. Regardless, he was expected to be given an extended look in the Mariners’ rotation.
No matter Miller’s potential, no one could have anticipated how spectacular his first start would be. He became the first pitcher in Mariners history to record double-digit strikeouts in his Major League debut.
Along with the 10 strikeouts, the righty allowed only two hits, no walks and just the one run in six innings. His performance proved key on a day the offense did little — no surprise there — in a 2-1 win versus the Athletics.
Of course, pitching well against the poorest team in the Majors is one thing. So Miller subsequently proved himself again in his next outing, versus the reigning World Series champions.
Making his home debut in front of 42,277 fans, Miller thrived against the Astros. He allowed just two hits and one walk in six shutout innings, to notch his first Major League win.
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The Mount Pleasant, Texas native needed only 85 pitches to get through his start, walking just one batter while striking out five. That it came against his boyhood team only made the occasion that much sweeter.
Still, there were those who wondered if Miller was a flash-in-the-pan. Fast forward to Saturday’s game in Detroit, and his third start.
Still not convinced?
Miller produced his longest outing yet, pitching seven innings versus the Tigers. They had no answer, as he recorded his second win in a 5-0 victory for the Mariners.
The 24-year-old allowed just three hits and no walks, while striking out three. At one point, he retired 16 batters in a row.
The only time Miller came close to trouble was during the opening inning, with a double and a single placing runners on the corners with two outs. He was unfazed however, as he forced a ground-out to end the threat and the inning.
Mariners manager Scott Servais was impressed with how composed his young pitcher was. Speaking to the media after the game he said:
“I’m amazed at how calm this young guy really is. He’s in control all the time. Nothing really gets to him. … A lot of times when you see young players like that struggle early, they panic a little bit. (But him), no panic at all.”
Perhaps most impressive of all, was how efficient Miller’s performance was. He needed just 82 pitches to get through his seven innings of action.
As a result of the outing, the 2021 fourth round draft pick has an ERA of 0.47, allowing just one run in 19 innings. The ERA is the best in club history for a pitcher after his first three starts, even better than a certain Felix Hernandez.
Miller also has a Major League record, with his 0.421 WHIP the lowest by any pitcher in history through their first three starts. With a .111 opposing batting average and 18 strikeouts versus just one walk, no other MLB pitchers has begun a career like this since at least 1901.
Mixing it up
Additionally, Miller has shown an ability to adapt. Consider that in his previous start versus Houston, 70.6 percent of his pitches were fastballs.
As much as Miller had said it was up to batters to prove they could hit it, it was important to show what else he had. Against Detroit his fastball percentage dropped to 48.8, while 41.5 percent were sliders and 9.7 percent were changeups.
Mariners manager Scott Servais reiterated the importance to mix up your pitches. He said:
“I know he’s got an elite fastball, but you need to have the secondary pitches going. I just thought in the first inning, (his off-speed arsenal) wasn’t there. He was falling off, didn’t have the sharpness, crispness to it. … And he made a quick adjustment. You need to have more than one pitch when you go out there, and he certainly did.”
Miller was happy with the variety of pitches on Saturday afternoon. He said:
“I felt good with all the breaking balls. Really, after the first inning, everything was good. … (Ultimately though), whatever Cal (Raleigh) calls, I’ve been throwing it.”
In this respect, Miller has faith in everyone else to help him get the job done. He said:
“The main thing so far has been throwing over the plate and trusting the defense behind me, because we have a tremendous defense. That’s been the main thing I’ve learned so far. A lot of balls are going to get caught behind me. I just have to trust it and throw it over the plate.”
Up to this point Miller has been better than advertised, but the tests will keep on coming. Next up he is due to start on Friday in Atlanta, against a strong Braves ballclub.
What’s your take on Bryce Miller up to this point? Do you believe he’s the real deal, or do you still need to see more from him? Let us know in the comments below.