Diamondbacks fandom has been bracing itself, ever since the dreaded words “forearm tightness” were heard from the team after Shelby Miller was lifted in the fifth inning of his start on April 23. The MRI was followed by a second opinion, from Dr. Neal S. ElAttrache, who has worked with the Dodgers, but the team also opted to discuss the situation with Dr. James Andrews, who has carried out many a Tommy John procedure. Manager Torey Lovullo demurred from calling it a third opinion, saying, “It’s part of the plan that we had talked about all along where we were going to have this group look at it and come together and get as much information as we possibly could, and pass it along to Shelby and figure out what the best game plan is.”
No formal decision has yet been made as to that plan, but at least the ailment has now apparently been diagnosed. Or, rather, ailments, because it appears Miller is suffering both from a torn ACL, and also a flexor strain. It’s the former which is obviously of most concern, and it seems almost certain that Miller will miss a very significant amount of time, even without having to go under the knife. Witness Rubby De La Rosa, who managed to avoid having TJ surgery, but has still only made two appearances since last May, due to elbow issues. On that basis, if we see Miller on the mound again for the D-backs this season, I would be surprised.
Zack Godley replaced Miller in the rotation last night, but was optioned down to Reno after the game. With an off-day coming up on Monday, the team can go without a fifth starter for a while - they would need one next a week Saturday. They’ve opted to add an extra bullpen arm to the roster, and it appears the winner of the slot was T.J. McFarland. While there has been no official announcement, he has a stall in the clubhouse and turned up there at about 3pm. This will require a 40-man roster move ti clear a spot, but that could be as simple as moving Miller from the 10-day to the 60-day disabled list. [Update: now officially confirmed as above]
McFarland spent the last four years with the Baltimore Orioles, posting a 4.27 ERA over 121 appearances, with a K:BB of 125:69 in 198.1 innings. He was a late signing by the D-backs, not inking a minor-league deal with them until the beginning of March. He appeared in six Cactus League games for Arizona, allowing three earned runs over six innings there, with a K:BB ratio of 3:1.