It may be the beginning of the offseason, but it's never too early to figure out how the Milwaukee Brewers roster math will work out for the 2023 season, especially as far as the pitching staff is concerned.
Yesterday, the team made a couple of moves that relate specifically to that area. The bigger one was declining the 2023 contract option for their leader in appearances for the last two seasons, Brad Boxberger. The smaller one was claiming pitcher Tyson Miller off waivers from the Texas Rangers.
Miller, a 27-year-old right-hander who was originally selected in the 4th round of the 2016 draft by the Chicago Cubs was similarly claimed off waivers by the Rangers in middle of the 2021 season. He finished both the 2019 (No. 19) and 2020 (No. 26) seasons ranked in the top 30 Cubs Prospects by MLB Pipeline.
Making a waiver claim like this is nothing new for the Brewers. David Stearns made many of them over the past several years, generally at low risk. Often times they didn't work out. But other times Milwaukee ended up with someone who would be a big contributor, such as Jesus Aguilar, for example.
It's hard to know if Miller will be one of those types of contributors. For one, we don't know when the Brewers plan to have him contribute at the big league level. Secondly, it also isn't certain how he'll contribute for the Crew.
What will newly acquired pitcher Tyson Miller's role be with the Brewers?
Since Miller only has six games of MLB experience, let's take a look at his minor league history. Over six seasons, he has pitched in 137 games with 100 of them being starts. He has a 4.04 ERA and 1.266 WHIP over that time as well as 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
Early on in his professional career, Miller was almost exclusively a starter. Things started shifting over his final season in the Cubs organization and his time with the Rangers. He would start in just 10 of 23 games in the minors in 2021 and in 16 of 29 last year.
Miller does have a five-pitch repertoire to pull from, which helps during starts. He largely relies on two of them though: a four-seamer and a slider, which he threw a combined 78.9% of the time in his four outings last season.
His MLB Pipeline profile from 2020 describes his four-seamer as "ranges from 90-95 mph and plays better than its radar-gun readings with high spin rates and natural cutting action up in the strike zone." Meanwhile his slider "works well when he mixes it with his four-seamer and keeps it down in the zone." That's a classic pitch mix for an effective reliever.
As far as Brewers GM Matt Arnold is concerned, both options are on the table when it comes to Miller, so says Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.
As a result, there could be a good chance that Miller's role for the Brewers ends up being that of pitching swingman. Lately, that role has been held by Aaron Ashby. However, there's a good chance that the lefty heads to the rotation full-time in 2023, which would leave that role open to others.
The Brewers could go either way with this decision, but they may want to get him some more seasoning first regardless. Miller has a career 4.87 ERA and 1.462 WHIP in 63 games at the Triple-A level. They may want to see him put up a better showing there in 2023 before trusting him on the mound for Milwaukee.
It's possible we don't get the answer to this question in 2023 depending on how the rest of the roster construction shakes out. Like other waiver claims, it's also possible we never get the answer, period.