The Cardinals announced they’re activating lefty reliever Andrew Miller from the 10-day injured list. Fellow southpaw Tyler Webb was designated for assignment to clear active roster space. Webb’s designation also creates a vacancy on St. Louis’ 40-man roster, which now sits at 39.
Miller has been out since April 30 due to a blister on his right foot. The 36-year-old got off to a poor start before the injury, allowing seven runs with eight strikeouts and four walks over 7 1/3 innings. Perhaps more worrisome, Miller’s raw stuff looks to have taken a significant step back. He averaged just 87.2 MPH on his four-seam fastball and 77.8 MPH on his slider in the season’s first month, down more than two ticks on both offerings relative to last season and nowhere near the mid-90s heater and mid-80s breaking ball he had at his dominant peak.
Despite the diminished stuff, Miller was a decent bullpen option as recently as 2020. He tossed 13 frames of 2.77 ERA/3.41 SIERA ball last year, continuing to miss bats at a quality rate. The St. Louis front office evidently felt he’d be a better second lefty bullpen option (behind Génesis Cabrera) than Webb.
Given how Webb has started the year, that’s certainly a reasonable belief. The 30-year-old has had a nightmarish campaign, allowing a whopping 26 runs (24 earned) over his first 16 1/3 innings. Webb has seemingly lost his control of the strike zone, issuing nineteen free passes while striking out just fourteen. Webb’s 20.7% walk rate is tied for fourth-highest among the 451 pitchers to have thrown at least ten MLB innings this season.
Webb is out of minor league option years, so the Cards could only continue to let him work through his control issues at the major league level or designate him for assignment. Ultimately, the front office made the decision to remove him from the 40-man roster. That’s no doubt a bitter pill to swallow given that Webb pitched to a strong 2.08 ERA/4.22 SIERA just last season. The Cardinals will now have a week to trade him or place him outright waivers.