With the lack of consistency from John Lackey, Andrew Miller's performances are becoming even more important. Luckily for Boston, he has been holding up, and notched another solid start on Saturday night against the Houston Astros.
Miller went six innings and allowed two runs, for his second quality start out of three (though, as discussed previously, his first start should have been a quality one, too). While he struck out just three hitters this time around, he also held the Astros to just a pair of walks, and induced 11 groundballs (nine for groundouts, including a few double plays). Miller will be at his best when he can combine punch outs with groundouts, but as long as he is doing one of the two, things will go well.
He now has strikeouts in 12.5 percent of his plate appearances (6.6 per nine), but has induced a groundout 25 percent of the time thanks to 50 percent of his balls in play coming on the ground. He has caused hitters to ground into double plays as often as he has struck them out, a testament to his groundball rate and the quality of Boston's infield defense.
Miller was taken out after 85 pitches, but with the Red Sox back in the AL and the need to pinch-hit for pitchers now over and done with, we should start to see him stretched out a bit more, rather than being lifted around the six inning mark all the time. More innings will tell us if Miller's performance is for real -- especially with those frames coming against the more talented American League -- and that's a question Boston needs answered before the end of this month, given the trade deadline.