The Rockies have placed righty Justin Miller on the 15-day DL, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding tweets.* His roster spot will go to fellow right-hander Adam Ottavino, who has been activated from the disabled list.
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Miller, 29, had pitched to a 5.35 ERA over 35 1/3 innings on the year, with 9.4 K/9 against 4.3 BB/9. That represents a somewhat disappointing follow-up on a 2015 campaign in which he allowed just over four earned per nine — no mean feat when pitching at Coors Field — with a 3.45 K/BB ratio, making him quite a productive minor-league signee.
Certainly, a .360 BABIP-against has not helped Miller’s cause, but he’s also been more prone to the long ball — making for a poor combination with an elevated walk rate. Miller is still in the zone just as much as he was last year, but is getting less swings and misses as batters have resisted his off-the-plate offerings.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how Ottavino returns after missing most of 2015 due to Tommy John surgery. He had claimed Colorado’s closer role after two straight quality campaigns. Ottavino had not allowed an earned run in 10 1/3 innings before he busted his ulnar collateral ligament, with 11.3 K/9 against just 1.7 BB/9.
In the meantime, the Rox have added Jake McGee and more recently elevated Carlos Estevez to 9th-inning duties, so Ottavino probably won’t go right back to closing. But Ottavino signed an offseason extension with the club while rehabbing, so he’s a fixed-cost asset. That increases the appeal of allowing him to rack up the saves rather than the other pitchers, each of whose future earnings would be impacted by counting statistics in the arbitration process.
*An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Miller had been designated for assignment. Harding has since clarified that he was moved to the disabled list.