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Arizona Diamondbacks Game Preview, #72: The return of Miller

If Shelby Miller is going to return, against the Phillies is probably his best chance of success. But then, it's also a team any pitcher should be expected to beat.

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Shelby Miller
RHP, 1-6, 7.09
Jeremy Hellickson
RHP, 4-5, 4.46
Jean Segura - 2B Cesar Hernandez - 2B
Phil Gosselin - 1B Freddy Galvis - SS
Jake Lamb - 3B Odubel Herrera - CF
Rickie Weeks - LF Maikel Franco - 3B
Welington Castillo - C Tommy Joseph - 1B
Socrates Brito - CF Cameron Rupp - C
Yasmany Tomas - RF Tyler Goeddel - LF
Nick Ahmed - SS Jeremy Hellickson - RHP
Shelby Miller - RHP Peter Bourjos - RF

The Diamondbacks take their carefully-crafted three-game winning streak, and bet all its chips on the return of Shelby Miller. This is a risk, considering the team has only twice this year won more than three games in a row. Twice, they won five, and you won't be surprised to hear - given our woeful home form - that both times were on the road. First, there was the streak including the four-game sweep in San Francisco, from April 17-21. Then, there was the sweep in Atlanta, followed by the first two games of the series in Colorado, from May 6-10. So, putting our trust in Shelby is no small thing.

As mentioned, however, the Phillies are a good match-up for anyone. Easily Miller's best start of the season - his sole quality start - was part of that series against the Braves, and the Phillies have now actually surpassed them for offensive futility. Philadelphia has a wRC+ this year of 69, which would be the lowest in the majors since the 1920 A's, if they keep it up the rest of the way. I have a theory that Miller's mechanical issues have made him a AAAA pitcher. He's still capable of getting out minor-league hitters, which is why I am restraining my excitement over his minor-league starts. High-A batters should fail miserably against a major-league pitcher.

So, it wouldn't surprise me if he has a good outing here - hopefully good enough for us to complete a four-game sweep. But I won't even begin to think about the possibility of Miller being "fixed", until after his next outing, next weekend against the Rockies. His two starts against them this season have given Miller an 8.38 ERA with as many walks as strikeouts, so they clearly proved capable of taking advantage of what ailed Shelby. On the other hand, this is virtually a no-win situation for Miller, because if the Phillies smack him around, we'll be right back to square one. Fair? Maybe not. But fairness is a privilege, not a right, when it comes to fan sentiment.