Cleveland Indians, MLB

Andrew Miller returns from DL to save Indians bullpen

Andrew Miller, the Indians All-Star reliever, is finally making his return after missing the past two months. Without him the Indians rank 26th in bullpen ERA.

The Cleveland Indians are about to get a big boost to their struggling bullpen.

Left-handed reliever Andrew Miller is coming off the DL Thursday after missing the past two months with right knee inflammation. Miller last played on May 25, and went on the DL the next day. He also missed time this season with a hamstring strain.

Miller’s return comes at the right time for the Indians. Their bullpen ranks 26th in the majors with a 4.98 ERA. Miller is 1-3 with a 4.40 ERA in 17 games this season, but had a 1.48 ERA in the previous two years after arriving from the New York Yankees at the 2016 trade deadline.

The bullpen has been a weak spot in an otherwise solid season for the Indians.  Usually reliable closer Cody Allen has a 4.43 ERA, while Dan Otero has a 5.22 ERA in 40 games.

Bryan Shaw, a dependable setup man who spent five years in Cleveland, left in the offseason to sign with Colorado and the Indians have struggled to find someone to replace him.

Their inability to close out games is even more glaring when compared with their stellar rotation. Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber are Cy Young candidates, and the starting rotation ranks third in the league in ERA.

Despite the bullpen struggles, Cleveland (59-48) leads the AL Central by 10 games.

The loss of Miller only made the weakness more apparent.

“It hasn’t been fun,” said manager Terry Francona when Miller went on the DL. “I didn’t just sign up for the good stuff. We all feel it and we’ll all try to figure it out together. That’s the best way I know how to do it. The other guys aren’t going to feel sorry for us, so we’ve got to figure it out.”

Cleveland has already made some moves in an attempt to improve their bullpen. They acquired All-Star Brad Hand and Adam Cimber from San Diego on July 19.

The deal seems to have worked. Hand has given up just one run in seven innings, while Cimber has yet to surrender a run in 2 2/3 innings.

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To make room for Miller on the roster, reliever Zach McAllister was designated for assignment. McAllister had a 4.97 ERA in 41 appearances this season. The Indians also announced on Thursday that outfielder Tyler Naquin will miss the next six to 10 weeks with a right hip injury.

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