Shelby Miller last pitched in the major leagues on July 6, allowing six runs over five innings at Chase Field against the San Francisco Giants. That dropped his season record to 2-9, and pushed his ERA past seven, to 7.14. The Diamondbacks decided enough was enough, and optioned him to Triple-A Reno, to see if he could work out his issues - be they mechanical, mental or a bit of both - out of the glare of the public spotlight.
The results for the Aces were a bit inconsistent. He did have some good outings, such as blanking Salt Lake over seven frames, and his strikeout numbers were excellent, Miller fanning 55 over 50.2 innings, compared to just 10 walks. But the overall ERA was 3.91, with minor-league batters hitting Shelby at a .281 rate. However, this was likely impacted by a hefty .372 BABIP, and with the recent struggles of Zack Godley, it appears the team have decided the time is right for Miller to return.
I am told Dbacks will start Shelby Miller tomorrow afternoon in San Francisco.— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) August 30, 2016
It’s not certain at this point Miller will indeed be replacing Godley in the rotation, but it seems the most obvious move. The probable pitchers board for the D-backs currently shows everyone after Greinke as “TBA”. It appears the team wanted to keep Greinke on his usual schedule, but also avoid Miller making his first start back in Coors Field. AT&T Park is certainly a more forgiving environment: this year, all pitchers there have an ERA of 4.12, compared to the same figure in Coors Field of 6.03. I presume everyone else thereafter will drop back a day, though with Thursday another off-day, we could conceivably skip someone like Braden Shipley.
Fingers crossed Miller has indeed fixed what ails him. This wasn’t his first stint in the minors, of course. There was a “disabled list” trip earlier in the season, but the numbers when he returned were, if anything, worse than the ones prior to his rehab assignment. On the plus side, his time optioned to the minors has probably led to the team gaining an extra year of control, so in effect, the Diamondbacks can “write off” the 2016 season. It’d thus be nice if Shelby could give the team some quality outings over the final month of the season. While now largely meaningless in terms of this year’s record, it would provide a foundation on which to build in 2017.
Update: This has now been officially confirmed, both Miller’s return and who he will be replacing in the rotation.
Chip Hale announces Shelby Miller will start Wednesday's game and Zack Godley will pitch out of the bullpen.— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 31, 2016