With 13 2⁄3 scoreless at Triple-A Syracuse, strikeouts from 23 of 46 batters he’d faced, three walks on the season, and a .070 opponents’ batting average, Justin Miller, who had a June 15th opt-out in the Minor League he signed deal with the Washington Nationals this winter, was likely going to find a new home if he wasn’t called up in the next few weeks.
Miller, 30, joined his third big league club in Miami today, taking the roster spot opened up when Erick Fedde was optioned back to the Nats’ top minor league affiliate after his start in the nation’s capital on Wednesday.
A 16th Round pick by the Texas Rangers in 2008, Miller debuted in the majors with Detroit back in 2014, and put up a 4.99 ERA, a 3.81 FIP, 33 walks (3.36 BB/9), 88 Ks (8.97 K/9), and a .249/.321/.440 line against in 88 1⁄3 IP for the Tigers (‘14) and Colorado Rockies (2015-16) in his time in the majors before this season, but struggled at Triple-A in the LA Angels system in 2017.
Things started to turn around for the hard-throwing righty when he took advice from fellow Nationals’ reliever Brandon Kintzler and hooked up with the trainers the sinker-balling right-hander recommended after what Miller admitted was a tough 2017 campaign.
“Last year was a little down year for me, both velo and like mentally-wise and stuff like that,” Miller told reporters in Miami last night.
“Got with Cressey [Sports Performance] this offseason, Brandon Kintzler, we both have the same agent, so he got me on board on Cressey and then got a good workout program, and lost some pounds and got more mobility and flexibility and stuff, and it’s been working out this year.”
“The numbers are very impressive,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said when he spoke with reporters before the series opener in Miami. “Known him for a while, he’s been around, he’s a guy that came back and he’s done well. [He] deserves to be here, and he’s going to get a chance to pitch.”
“It’s good to be back, it’s good to get back here,” Miller said, with “here” being the majors, and he said he didn’t plan on changing anything up now that he’s made his way up to the show again.
“Just keep doing what I’m doing,” he said, “... it seems to be working, not going to try to stray from anything of that, so whatever has been working I’m going to try to stick to it.”