After the signing of Andrew Chafin, the Detroit Tigers bullpen was in better shape, but they still needed another reliever that could pitch in high-leverage situations. On the surface, Shelby Miller didn't seem like he could be the answer there. A former starter, Miller has transitoned to the bullpen following a series of injuries.
Last year, his numbers for the Dodgers were pretty solid. He had a 1.71 ERA and 9.00 K/9 in 42 IP. The sabremetrics weren't as kind with a 3.68 FIP and 4.49 xFIP, likely due to his 4.07 BB/9 and .165 BABIP against, but he was still able to get the job done for LA.
The key for him was that he started throwing a splitter, and batters hit just .136 against it. He may have revitalized his career with that pitch.
But the promising sign for the Tigers is that Miller did very well in limited action in high-leverage situations. In 8.2 IP, he had an ERA of just 0.96. He also stranded 89.4% of inherited runners. Credit to Jerry Mackinem on Twitter for the leverage information.
At just one-year, $3 million with a club option for 2025, the Tigers may have gotten steal here. There's a chance he becomes one of A.J. Hinch's go-to leverage options. With Miller, Jason Foley, Chafin, Tyler Holton, and Alex Lange, the Tigers could have a sneaky good bullpen in 2024.
It wouldn't hurt to acquire a third lefty to really allow Hinch to mix and match. Aaron Loup could be a decent option there. But as of right now, the bullpen still looks to be in pretty good shape.
If Chris Fetter and company can keep working on that spiltter with Miller, this could end up being a great find by Scott Harris. With Miller, Kenta Maeda and Casey Mize, the Tigers now have three pitchers on their staff that throw a split-fingered fastball.
It's nice to see that Harris has learned his lesson from last offseason. He neglected the bullpen last year, opting to fill it with a bunch of minor league signings. This year has been much different. Learning from past mistakes is key for a GM/president of baseball operations. There's still time to add a third baseman as well, and learn from another mistake.