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Preview #78: 6/25 @ Marlins

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The return of Shelby Miller...

MLB: San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Today's Lineups

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS MIAMI MARLINS
Jon Jay - LF Derek Dietrich - LF
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Brian Anderson - RF
Jake Lamb - 3B Justin Bour - 1B
Daniel Descalso - 2B Starlin Castro - 2B
Ketel Marte - SS JT Riddle - SS
Chris Owings - RF Miguel Rojas - 3B
Jarrod Dyson - CF Lewis Brinson - CF
Jeff Mathis - C Bryan Holaday - C
Shelby Miller - RHP Dan Straily - RHP

The team had to make a roster move to accommodate Shelby Miller today, but it wasn’t quite the one expected - sending Braden Shipley back to Reno. Instead, Clay Buchholz has been placed on the 10-day DL with an oblique issue to make way for Miller on the 25-man roster [a 40-man spot had already been opened due to the DFA-ing of pitcher Stefan Crichton, who had been picked up for cash from the Orioles in early April, but had an ERA in double-digits for Reno]. Buchholz said he feels no worse than yesterday, but will take a few days off throwing. One imagines Matt Koch - who pitched yesterday for the Aces - would be promoted when we need a fifth starter on Friday. It all seems a bit... tactical to me!

What might we expect from Miller? Hopefully, his return to the rotation will goes as smoothly as the one of Patrick Corbin in 2015. Let’s compare Corbin’s stats the rest of that season, with what he produced before having Tommy John:
2013: 32 GS, 208.1 IP, 3.41 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 3.30 K:BB
2015: 16 GS, 85 IP, 3.60 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 4.59 K:BB
The main difference is a drop in innings per start, from 6.5 to 5.3. But both the ERA and the fielding-independent ERA were within 0.20 of the figure before Corbin had surgery, with a rather better strikeout to walk ratio afterward. I expect them to be cautious with Miller’s pitch-count. Corbin’s first two games were 76 and 67 pitches, and he topped out at 91 in his sixteen starts, so having Shipley around for piggy-back purposes does make some sense.

It’ll also help that he is going against a weak offense: the Marlins wRC+ of 83 this season is last in the National League. However, they have been rather better of late, with a figure of 93 over the past thirty days. They’ve actually won three of their last four series, including victories in both Baltimore and Colorado during their 5-5 road-trip which just concluded, so they should not been considered a complete pushover. As the Reds showed with a four-game sweep of the Cubs in Chicago over the weekend, any MLB team can still win against any other team. So it would be wise of the D-backs to keep playing - and, in particular, pitching - the way they did in Pittsburgh. Can’t lose first place if you don’t lose...