The Cleveland Indians are heading to the World Series, and a guy they acquired less than three months ago is the biggest reason why.
Andrew Miller was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday, shortly after the Indians blanked the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 in Game 5 to win the best-of-seven series four games to one. That’s a pretty significant achievement for the left-handed reliever, especially when you consider this:
That’s right. A middle reliever — not a starter, a closer or any hitter in Cleveland’s lineup — was the most dominant player in this series. In fact, Miller became just the fourth reliever ever to win ALCS MVP, the most recent being Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara in 2013.
Of course, it’s hard to argue with that choice. Miller’s stats in the ALCS are downright otherworldly: zero runs allowed on three hits in 7 2/3 innings pitched with 14 strikeouts and no walks. Miller saw 25 Jays batters in the series, meaning he struck out 56 percent of the batters he faced.
Amazingly, that percentage dropped after he *only* recorded one strikeout in 2 2/3 scoreless innings Wednesday. Toronto’s hitters couldn’t even make contact off Miller in Games 1 and 2, as he struck out all but two of the first 12 batters he faced.
Miller’s dominant ALCS continued an incredible postseason run for the 31-year-old. He pitched four shutout innings in two appearances against the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series, setting the tone for the Tribe in Game 1 by striking out four of the eight batters he saw. Through 11 2/3 innings this postseason, Miller has allowed just five hits and no runs while racking up 21 K’s.
Miller has been everything the Indians could have hoped for and more since they acquired him in a trade with the New York Yankees on July 31. He’s not even Cleveland’s closer — that title belongs to Cody Allen — but that almost has made him more dangerous, as manager Terry Francona has used Miller all over the place to stop opponents’ rallies in their tracks.
Miller has been a very successful pitcher for several seasons now, but this postseason has been his coming-out party — and everyone seems to be taking notice.
Thumbnail photo via Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports Images