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Arizona Diamondbacks Game Preview, #38: Will Miller blossom?

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Shelby Miller had his best start as a Diamondback last time. On the other hand, it was against the Braves...

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Samardzija
RHP, 4-2, 3.17
Shelby Miller
RHP, 1-3, 7.36
Denard Span - CF Jean Segura - 2B
Joe Panik - 2B Brandon Drury - RF
Matt Duffy - 3B Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Buster Posey - C Jake Lamb - 3B
Brandon Belt - 1B Welington Castillo - C
Hunter Pence - RF Yasmany Tomas - LF
Brandon Crawford - SS Chris Owings - CF
Jeff Samardzija - RHP Nick Ahmed - SS
Angel Pagan - LF Shelby Miller - RHP

As a confidence-boosting exercise, Miller's outing in Atlanta was fine. But considering the quality of the opposition - Atlanta are currently on pace for 39 wins and to become the first team to score below 500 runs in a full season since the 1971 Padres - it's hard to read anything more into it than a morale victory. But perhaps that's what he needed: in terms of any physical malady, there doesn't appear to be anything special, and the cause of the problem may well be between Miller's ears. In which case, the solution is likely to be found there as well, and a quality start that got him the victory might (just might) be the kick-start his season needed.

Not exactly wagering the house on that though, and the Giants will be a significantly tougher opponent for Miller. If previous form is anything to go by, he'll be fine the first time through the order, then meltdown the second - that has been the issue, not just for Miller. All told, our pitchers have held opposing hitters to a .708 OPS the first time through the order, but that jumps to .899 the second time. Home-runs? Six, the first time through; 13 the second. This is reflected in the runs scored and allowed per inning. The Diamondbacks have been outscored by a two-to-one margin over the third and fourth frames, giving up 62 runs while scoring only 31. I'll thus feel a lot better if we're through four tonight, and not trailing.

Still no sign of David Peralta. Jack Magruder says the team was hoping he could take some swings today, but he is missing his sixth straight game. With the team already carrying an extra relief pitcher, that effectively means Arizona has a bench tonight consisting of Phil Gosselin, Chris Herrman and Rickie Weeks Jr. which doesn't leave a lot of room for late-inning match-ups. I can't say I feel too optimistic overall about the potential outcome here - but there's something to be said for pessimism. You either get to say, "Told you so," or can be pleasantly surprised by a positive result. I'll hope for the best, yet fear for the worst.