The Nationals are set to select the contract of veteran right-handed reliever Justin Miller prior to tomorrow’s game against the Marlins, reports Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. As Janes recently reported, the 30-year-old Miller had a June 15 opt-out provision in his minor league contract. The Nats have a vacancy on their 40-man roster at present, so they’ll need only to clear a space on the 25-man roster, which they achieved by optioning right-hander Erick Fedde back to Syracuse.
Miller enjoyed a solid season with the Rockies in 2015 (4.05 ERA, 38 strikeouts, 11 walks in 33 1/3 innings), but he has little Major League track record outside of that, owning a lifetime 4.99 ERA in 88 1/3 big league frames. That said, one would be hard pressed to suggest that the journeyman is anything less than wholly deserving a promotion to the Majors based on his utter dominance at the game’s top minor league level this season. In 13 2/3 innings with Syracuse, Miller is unscored upon and has turned in a ridiculous 23-to-3 K/BB ratio with a 45 percent grounder rate.
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Miller’s heater sat in the 93-94 mph range in his previous stints with the Rockies from 2015-16, though Janes notes that his velocity has trended up in the minors this season. And even if he’s struggled to prevent runs in the Majors to this point in his career, he’s never had much issue in the way of missing bats. Miller posted a 13.5 percent swinging-strike rate in that aforementioned 2015 season and carries a career 10.5 percent mark in that regard during his limited MLB time.
The Nats are currently carrying a seven-man bullpen, so the arrival of Miller will push the team to an eight-deep relief corps. He’ll join closer Sean Doolittle and a bullpen unit that also consists of Brandon Kintzler, Shawn Kelley, Sammy Solis, Tim Collins, Trevor Gott and Wander Suero for the time being.