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Fantasy Baseball: Is Andrew Miller The Best Non-Closer Reliever?


February 27, 2017

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Last season, Andrew Miller, one of baseball’s best pitchers, went from the New York Yankees to the Cleveland Indians. Miller is a great talent, but Cleveland did not use him in a way that would make for good fantasy baseball value. Miller remains the setup man in Cleveland, with Cody Allen keeping his closer role. Without a huge collapse from Allen, Miller won’t make his way into the closer role. Despite few saves, Miller’s superb talent and usage benefits his owners more than his role hinders his fantasy baseball usefulness.


When breaking down the usefulness of a pitcher in fantasy baseball, you must look at the categories where he will help your fantasy baseball squad. Obviously, Wins and Saves are mostly independent of the pitchers’ talent. These are stats of opportunity. The league’s best reliever can’t get saves if he doesn’t get any save chances. The league’s best pitcher can’t get wins if his team doesn’t score any runs. So instead of looking at five categories, let’s check those that are in the pitchers’ control: ERA, WHIP, and K.

Your goal for fantasy baseball is acquiring as many quality innings as possible. Sure, most these innings must come from starters and closers to compete in saves and wins, but filling in the gaps with great non-closer relievers could be the difference between victory and second place. This is where Andrew Miller comes in to help. On a per-inning basis, Andrew Miller is the best fantasy baseball pitcher in the game.

Per Fangraphs’ ZiPS projections, Miller’s ERA, WHIP, and K/9 all project to be the best in the game. That means that every time Miller picks up the baseball, he will drive down your ratios and rack up strikeouts at a pace higher than anyone in the game. When normalizing the three categories Miller has the highest per inning score of any pitcher in baseball. That’s obvious, given that he projects to strike out batters, allow fewer runs and base runners all at the best rate in the game.

On a per-inning basis, Miller scores out as the best pitcher in fantasy baseball (when excluding wins and saves). His former teammate, Dellin Betances, however, grades out as the best reliever in baseball overall. This is due to Betances’ amazing ratios coming into play for 75 innings in 2017 compared to Millers’ 62. The major question that comes into play with Miller is playing time. Will Cleveland keep using him like they did in the playoffs? If so, he becomes on-par with Betances, and might even exceed him. He’s also second in line behind a closer that he is arguably better than. Miller goes just two picks behind Cody Allen per FantasyPros.com ADP, which means that the consensus opinion is that Miller will become closer sooner rather than later.


Given that Miller goes just outside the top-100 picks, he is a great plug-in option that you can get those ratio categories under control. If you are in IP max leagues, Miller provides quality innings to help off-set bombs from your starters. In a daily transaction league, he plugs in to provide solid ratios and strikeouts when you have no starters. Plus, he’s one Cody Allen injury away from being the best closer in fantasy baseball. You’re paying for the value, but Andrew Miller is a non-closer option that is worth your time.

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