Josh Beckett has been ill, Clay Buchholz' back hurts, Alfredo Aceves is back in the bullpen, John Lackey is terrible, and Daisuke Matsuzaka will spend the rest of his contract recovering from Tommy John Surgery.
With all the misfortune that has befallen the Red Sox' rotation of late, it's no surprise that the team was able to find an opportunity to get Andrew Miller some starts.
It's also no surprise that, after a couple successful appearances, Red Sox fans are all-too-ready to crown him their savior. But is he?
So far, there's no question the Sox have seen results from Miller. In fact, surrounding losses from Lester, Wakefield, Lackey, and Aceves, Miller has been the starting pitcher in both of the Red Sox' last two wins. In his first start against San Diego, he really only had the one bad pitch (Orlando Hudson's home run), despite the three earned runs in just under six innings. And he had to overcome a good deal of poor defense in his win against Pittsburgh.
But there have been some concerning trends too. He has not done the best job of putting the ball in the strike zone, having periods of wildness where he's clearly unable to find his command. Against the Pirates, that manifested as a walk to the pitcher, as well as his two failed attempts to hit an opposing batter in retribution for the Pirates coming in on Dustin Pedroia.
Still, when he's looked good, he's looked good. His slurve was an absolute wipeout pitch against the Padres, his fastball has been sitting at 93 with some of its old bite back, and his changeup is enough of a change of pace that he should be capable of surviving the second and even third time through a lineup.
Is Andrew Miller a 3.09 ERA pitcher? Almost certainly not. He's faced the Pirates and the Padres, and stranded an unsustainable percentage of the base runners he's allowed. But the Red Sox certainly seem to have done a reasonable job with this particular reclamation project. He's always had the raw talent and physical abilities, now with his much-improved secondary offering, hopefully he'll be able to make use of it.
Once billed as a future ace--first for the Tigers, then the Marlins--Miller isn't ever likely to quite reach those heights. What the Red Sox need, though, is not necessarily another No. 1 or No. 2 starter. Much like in 2009, the Sox are just searching for the guy who can give them a shot in the two games while Beckett, Buchholz, and Lester are resting. Lackey and Matsuzaka haven't provided that, but it's looking like Andrew Miller just might.