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Indians' Francona admits he's pitched Miller too much recently

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David Richard / USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Miller went from being a disappointing starting pitcher to one of the most dominant relievers in the game. But even he has human moments.

In a relief appearance for the Cleveland Indians last week against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Miller allowed four earned runs in two-thirds of an inning – the first time he’s allowed that many runs in an outing since 2012. The night before, he allowed one run in 1 2/3 innings.

Manager Terry Francona flipped the switch in the next series, bringing Miller into consecutive games against the Minnesota Twins in the ninth inning instead of closer Cody Allen, who he used earlier in both contests. Francona says he was trying to balance the workload between the two relievers, according to Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes. He was worried about overusing Miller.

“I don’t think Andrew ever got overexposed, I think I pitched him too much,” said Francona. “I was talking about that the other day. You don’t ever see an ERA next to my name, but I should have got a couple of his runs.

“I was bothered by that last week. I shouldn’t have done that. We say it all the time. We want our guys to pitch as much as possible, but not too much. That one outing was too much.”

Miller hadn’t allowed a home run all season before allowing two to the Dodgers over his two appearances. Often used for multiple innings at a time, Miller was kept to only a single inning in both appearances against the Twins, and he didn’t allow a run.

Allen said he has no problem with the switch, which is not expected to be permanent, something Miller appreciates.

“I think we’re all good with it,” Miller said. “The communication was good. I think the biggest contribution is Cody not throwing a fit over it with him being the closer and having the flexibility to try this.”

The Indians currently feature baseball’s most dominant bullpen with a cumulative 2.56 ERA over 214 1/3 combined innings. The Boston Red Sox have the only other bullpen with an ERA under 3.00 (2.80).

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