Mariners’ Bryce Miller ready for adjustments to pay off in Year 2

Feb 16, 2024, 1:25 PM | Updated: 1:31 pm

Seattle Mariners Bryce Miller...

Bryce Miller of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch against the Houston Astros on May 7, 2023. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners had not one, but two rookies in their starting rotation last year in Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo.

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Miller made his debut in early-May due to injuries in the rotation and stayed with the big league club the rest of the way. In 25 starts, Miller posted a 4.32 ERA with 119 strikeouts in 131 1/3 innings along with an 8-7 record.

Miller was also someone who was a rumored trade candidate all offseason as the Mariners have a lot of young pitching but needed lineup help. But Miller is still with the Mariners as pitchers and catchers have reported, and that’s something he’s thankful for.

“All that stuff is out of our control, so it’s not really anything that I can sit and worry about. So I just went out and worked on what I needed to work on and didn’t really worry about it,” Miller told Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Friday. “Obviously, I didn’t want to leave. I like our clubhouse, I like everybody that we have, so I’m glad that nothing happened and that I’m still here. So like I said, I’m excited for the season and excited for what all we’ve added and what we have coming.”

For Miller, he didn’t throw a baseball for about six weeks to start the offseason before getting back to work. A big part of his offseason was adding a new pitch, a splitter.

“I got a little new pitch to play with, and I think we’re gonna have new usage, new percentages for all my pitches this year for righties and lefties,” Miller said. “I’m really excited. It’s gonna be really good, I think.”

Miller used a 4-seam fastball roughly 60% of the time as well as a sinker/2-seamer roughly 8% of the time. Those numbers were even higher across his first handful of MLB starts.

“I got up there and I threw pretty much all fastballs and wasn’t given up much hits, so I was like, ‘This is easier than I was expecting. All I gotta do is throw heaters down the middle and you can get through six innings,'” Miller said with a laugh. “But yeah, obviously that didn’t last. The league adjusts and I have to adjust with how they do. I think this offseason came at a good time.”

The splitter has been a big part of Miller’s offseason work, and while he plans to use it to both right-handed and left-handed hitters, it’s primarily there to help Miller against lefties, who slashed .303/.358/.558 (.917 OPS) against him in 2023 compared to a .200/.234/.315 (.549 OPS) slash line by righties.

“I struggled at the back half last year especially to get lefties out, so opposing teams would just load lineups up with lefties knowing that it was my weakness,” Miller said. “So this year, it’s going to be a whole lot better, I think. And if they want to load lefties, they can. I’m gonna give them a few splits to look at.”

Miller had never thrown a splitter before this offseason, opting instead for a more traditional changeup. But he started to think about adding it to his arsenal after watching two teammates, Logan Gilbert and George Kirby, have great success with it last year.

“I thought it was something that would be really good for how I throw and for what I needed,” Miller said. ” … It took me a month or two just to find a grip that I was comfortable with and one that I was able to get consistent shapes with. Once I got that down, it made it a whole lot easier. It’s easier to command a pitch when you know kind of what it’s going to do. So once I got the shape down, I was happy with it.”

Listen to Brock and Salk’s full interview with Mariners starter Bryce Miller at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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