2013 Phillies Report Card: Zach Miner
It says something about the Phillies’ 2013 season that a reliever who hadn’t pitched in professional baseball prior to the season ended up logging as many innings during the second half of the season as closer and $50 million man Jonathan Papelbon. Zach Miner began his career with the Tigers, pitching out of the back of their starting rotation. He posted mediocre numbers, bouncing back and forth between the Majors and Triple-A. In 2010, he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. When he returned, he pitched in the Royals organization then went back with the Tigers before winding up with the Phillies.
In his first appearance in the Majors since 2009 on August 3, Miner pitched two and two-thirds innings against the Braves, shutting them out on one walk without allowing a hit. From there, the Phillies made him a regular part of the bullpen, using him in low-leverage (a.k.a. “mop up”) situations. In 13 appearances through September 13, he posted a 3.72 ERA despite walking nearly as many as he struck out (10 to 14) and allowing an opponent OPS approaching .800.
When Roy Halladay returned from the disabled list, then faltered, the Phillies were running out of options in the starting rotation to get them through the end of the regular season. Halladay, Kyle Kendrick, John Lannan, Jonathan Pettibone, and Adam Morgan were all sidelined for one reason or another, so the Phillies moved Miner into the starting rotation. In three starts, he never made it out of the fourth inning, but two of his starts were good while one was terrible. The results weren’t what mattered, though, as the Phillies simply needed someone with a pulse to pitch multiple innings once every five days. By that measure, Miner passed with flying colors.
Miner is off to free agency, where he’ll sign with another team to provide depth. The Phillies will be addressing their starting rotation with higher-quality players and mop-up bullpen arms are a dime a dozen, so Miner has no real value to the team going forward. Relative to expectations, Miner was fine for them in the final two months of the 2013 season. His final start against the Braves had a heavy effect on his ERA, raising it from 3.08 to 4.40. I can’t find fault with a guy posting a 3.08 ERA through his first 15 appearances coming back from a three-year absence from the Majors. I’ll give Miner a solid B for his effort.