Andrew Miller was one of the best pitchers in baseball last year as the Yankees shutdown closer. In 2015, Miller had 36 saves in 38 chances, 100 strikeouts, a 2.04 ERA, and an absurd 100/20 K/BB ratio in 61 2/3 innings. Miller’s performance earned himself every dime of money he made in the first year of a four-year, 36 million contract he signed last offseason. Miller was so good in his first season in the Bronx, that he was honored with the Mariano Rivera Award as the top American League reliever.
As good as Miller was last season, the Yankees made the right move in bringing in Aroldis Chapman to form a three headed monster in the back end of the bullpen with Dellin Betances. In order to form that trio though, egos needed to be checked at the door. The Yankees handed the role of closer to Chapman - even with an upcoming 30 game suspension for violating the MLB domestic violence policy to open the season. If Miller wanted to voice his displeasure with the decision to move him out of the closer role for Chapman, he very well could have. Miller isn’t your typical egotistical maniac athlete, and that is what has earned him respect with the Yankee fan base. Miller’s comments about the situation with Chapman right after the move tell you all you need to know about the type of person Miller is.
“I will show up and be ready to pitch in whatever role they ask,” Miller said to the New York Post last month. “As I’ve told Joe [Girardi] all along, Dellin has shown he can do that. Dellin, he slipped in and he seamlessly filled the ninth inning and he can pitch the seventh. The way he handled it, if I can handle it as gracefully as he did last year I think we’ll be good and if we can get the ball to him with the lead we’re in good shape.”
On Wednesday, it was announced that Miller suffered a bone chip in his non throwing hand after taking a line drive to his hand. Most athletes would take their time back to recover from this injury but not Miller. No, Miller made jokes about the situation saying he will keep going to different doctors until he finds one that says he can pitch with this injury. The willingness for Miller to pitch through this injury meant the Yankees caught a break – a big one. With Chapman suspended for the first 30 games of the season the biggest strength of the Yankees would have taken a drastic hit without Miller and Chapman. Not to mention the fact that reliever Bryan Mitchell, who was going to play the role that Adam Warren played last season for the club, suffered a toe injury and is scheduled to miss a few months.
"It says a lot about him,'' Girardi said to the New York media about Miller's willingness to pitch with the injury. "It says he cares about one thing. Winning and helping his teammates. Two things. That's what he cares about. And we've seen that in the year that we've had him. His attitude toward Chapman coming in and just the way he's went about his business, he cares about winning.''
When you think of the Yankees, Miller likely isn’t the first few players you think of. However, Miller is one of the most likeable athletes on the team without a doubt. He is liked by his teammates, has said all the right things about the Chapman situation, and is willing to pitch through injuries to help the team win games. If that doesn’t earn you respect from a fan base like the Yankees – nothing ever will.