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Elephant Rumblings: Mason Miller struggling with command

MLB news roundup

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MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Wednesday, Athletics Nation!

A’s top pitching prospect Mason Miller didn’t lose his stuff while he was recovering from forearm tightness, but he does appear to have lost some of his command.

Miller has allowed two runs in each of his past three appearances—that’s six runs in six innings pitched, though one of those runs was unearned.

Mason is still getting plenty of swing-and-miss, touching triple digits with his lively fastball, and bending the laws of physics with sliders like this:

The young righty is still striking out plenty of batters—he K’d seven of them in the same six inning span.

The problem is that no matter how good your stuff is, if you can’t hit your spots, more free passes will be issued, and more mistake pitches will be taken for a ride by opportunistic hitters. Miller has walked six through our six-inning sample. Add the five hits he’s allowed to those walks, divide by six, and you’re looking at a WHIP of 1.83. That’s not a winning recipe.

I’m still confident that Mason will achieve success equal to his ability to stay healthy—whether or not he can avoid injury is the biggest question mark surrounding his future. But It would be nice to see one or two lights-out performances like Miller’s first post-rehab go out of the bullpen on September 6 against the Blue Jays, in which he retired all six batters faced and struck out half of them.

Miller said he is “trending in a good direction,” yesterday. We’ll see if his next performance reflects those words of confidence.

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