SEPTEMBER 1: The Pirates announced that Miller has officially been selected to the big league roster as part of September roster expansion.
AUGUST 31: Pittsburgh has added Miller to the taxi squad, manager Derek Shelton told reporters (including Mike Persak of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). He has not yet been added to the active or 40-man rosters.
AUGUST 30: The Pirates are planning to select Shelby Miller to the big league club, reports Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). The Bucs already have a vacancy on the 40-man roster after releasing Gregory Polanco over the weekend.
It’ll be Miller’s second big league stint this year, as he made three appearances for the Cubs in April. The 30-year-old was rocked for seven runs in just two innings with Chicago before landing on the injured list with a lower back strain. Rather than bring him back to the active roster upon his return to health, the Cubs designated Miller for assignment and released him.
Miller latched on with Pittsburgh on a minor league deal in late June. Assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis, he has been excellent, albeit in limited work. While he’s allowed seven runs in fourteen innings, Miller has struck out 22 of the 56 batters he’s faced while issuing just three walks. The right-hander has also induced grounders on more than half the balls put in play against him and surrendered just one home run while racking up swinging strikes at a huge 16.8% clip.
That strong showing will earn the former All-Star another look down the stretch. Obviously, one shouldn’t expect a return to Miller’s peak form at this point in his career, but it’s not inconceivable he could reinvent himself as a quality bullpen arm.
Miller will be a free agent at the end of the season. There’s little long-term upside for the rebuilding Pirates, but there’s also no harm in giving him a look over the final few weeks of the year. At the very least, Miller can shoulder some innings in a bullpen that ranks in the top third of the league in innings pitched (495 2/3) but is among the bottom ten in ERA (4.59) and strikeout/walk rate differential (12 percentage points). If Miller proves able to carry over his strong Triple-A form to the big league level, the Pirates could consider pursuing a reunion this offseason.