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Shelby Miller to undergo Tommy John surgery

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It’s not much of a surprise, but is definitely a significant disappointment.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The prospect of Shelby Miller having to undergo Ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, also known as Tommy John surgery (TJS), had been looming since he was removed from his last start with forearm tightness. Several medical opinions were sought, including Dr. James Andrews, who is probably the leading living expert on the process, and it was announced earlier in the week that Miller did indeed have a tear of his elbow ligament. But other possibilities short of TJS were being considered, such as the platelet therapy used by Rubby De La Rosa.

However, Miller announced before today’s game that, having weighed the options, he would be having TJS. saying "It's the best decision I think we could make." No date has yet been set for the procedure. The standard recovery time - as we’ve seen with a number of Diamondbacks’ pitchers, including Patrick Corbin and Daniel Hudson - is generally seen as 12-15 months, meaning that, even with immediate surgery, it may be a stretch to expect Miller to be anything like healthy before the All-Star break in 2018, and the rest of that season may represent a gradual return.

There is a legitimate question about whether the team may opt to non-tender Miller after this season. He’s getting paid $4.7 million this year, and so will likely be in the $5-6 million range for 2018. With absolutely no guarantee as to his return and/or his effectiveness, it could be a risk. What we may see happen is the same kind of thing Arizona did with Daniel Hudson: non-tender the pitcher, but still sign him back, in a way that doesn’t require a 40-man roster spot e.g. to a minor-league deal, and mitigates the downside for the franchise.

For now, the team have to make a decision about a permanent replacement for Miller in the rotation. His last start was taken by Zack Godley, who was optioned back to Reno immediately afterward, as the D-backs didn’t need a fifth starter for a while, thanks to Monday’s off-day. However, the news today has caused them to re-evaluate this, and manager Torey Lovullo said they would add a starter for the Washington series. There’ll be more news tomorrow. Beyond Godley (though he would have to wait before being recalled) This could mean moving Archie Bradley out of the bullpen, or promoting Anthony Banda or Braden Shipley to make their major-league debuts - both men are already on the 40-man roster, so would not require any additional moves

At the time of Miller’s injury, we had a poll on the potential replacement, which Bradley won handily, with 49% of the votes. Now that this is now a reality, rather than a hypothetical possibility, and we’ve also seen Godley in action, will the results be any different?

Poll

Who should replace Shelby Miller?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Anthony Banda
    (33 votes)
  • 42%
    Archie Bradley
    (80 votes)
  • 19%
    Zack Godley
    (36 votes)
  • 14%
    Braden Shipley
    (28 votes)
  • 5%
    Someone else
    (11 votes)
188 votes total Vote Now