I feel like my writing about Andrew Miller might be bordering on overkill, but you know what, he’s just not that good of a pitcher. In yesterday’s game, Miller went 5.2 innings while allowing no run and two hits, but he walked six batters to only three strikeouts, which gives him 15 walks to only three strikeouts since he began facing American League teams.
Overall, Miller now has walked 6.4 batters per nine innings while striking out only 4.7 per nine. His 0.7 K/BB rate is downright horrible and he can thank his teammates for their run support and defense that has helped to push his record to 4-1.
Miller’s lack of consistency is one of the reasons that the Sox need to pursue a starting pitcher above all other needs. The other is the continued emergence of Josh Reddick, who went 2-for-3 and is now batting .378/.432/.671 since his call-up. Even if Reddick hits a cold streak and his AVG falls off sharply, the Sox offense as a whole has proven to be good enough to overcome.
The Sox have five batters in ranked in the top 25 in wins above replacement in the American League based on calculations from Fan Graphs. Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia rank two and three on that list.
While the Sox starting rotation will certainly get a boost once Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz return, there is still a fifth starter’s spot to fill, which could be crucial if John Lackey continues to struggle the rest of the season — though he has a 14/2 K/BB rate in his last two outings.
Fire Brand’s Chip Buck listed some possible starting pitcher trade targets yesterday. I personally like Hiroki Kuroda because of his consistency with regard to K/BB rate and chase rate. He also generates more ground balls than fly balls, which would limit the potential damage of going from Dodger Stadium to the green monster in Fenway. However, Kuroda seems to be standing pretty firm in his stance that he doesn’t want to go to the east coast and would be asking for some type of compensation in any trade.
One name I do like that would represent a bit of a buy low, who was also mentioned by Chip yesterday, is Edwin Jackson. His 3.97 ERA masks the fact that he is having his best season with regard to K/BB rate. Jackson has typically been inconsistent with control/command over his career, but he has walked under three batters per nine innings this season. Over roughly the last year-and-a-half, Jackson has also lowered his HR/9 and raised his ground ball rate significantly. He already pitches home games in a band-box of a ballpark, so there wouldn’t be much of a change park-factor wise.
Given the White Sox depth in starting pitching, combined with the fact that Jackson will be a free agent after the season, it shouldn’t cost and arm and a leg from the farm system to get him.
Speaking of giving up and arm and a leg, that’s apparently what the Mets are asking for in return for a few months of Carlos Beltran. ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes wrote yesterday that the Sox have indeed talked to the Mets about Beltran, but that they are,
“…unwilling to part with the type of top-tier prospects New York is seeking in return…”
As I mentioned above, the Sox offense is clearly not the problem and throwing the team’s top prospects at a position that is becoming a strength makes little sense.
There’s a lot to be excited about as the trade deadline approaches. The Sox are clearly making their calls and doing their research. However, the biggest boost to this team is not going to come from an outside source at all. It’s going to come from the moment Lester and Buchholz are back in the rotation together.