Right-hander working to correct command, mechanical issues
By Jesse Sanchez
PHOENIX -- The D-backs have not ruled out skipping Shelby Miller's next turn in the rotation to give the starter extra time to work on the mechanical issues that have plagued him this season.
Miller is tentatively scheduled to pitch Tuesday against the Cardinals, the team that drafted him in the first round out of Brownwood (Texas) High School in 2009 and developed him. Miller pitched in the big leagues for Cardinals for three seasons, starting in 2012, before he was traded to the Braves after the 2014 season.
"As of right now, we are not planning on him skipping the start," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "Can that change? It always can. If that's what [pitching coach Mike Butcher] and everybody thinks. But as of right now, he's feeling good. He's healthy. His arm is fine and his hand is fine, so he should be OK."
In Thursday's 6-2 win over the Giants, Miller lost command of his pitches and walked the first four batters of the third inning and was removed from the game. He walked five and threw just 23 of his 55 pitches for strikes in the abbreviated start, his second short outing in a row.
In his previous outing, Miller was forced to leave the game against the Padres with two outs in the second inning after banging his hand on the mound twice during his follow-through. The right-handed pitcher has been studying video and working with the coaching staff to correct his mechanical flaws. He's also had strong bullpen sessions, Hale said, but Miller has been unable to maintain the mechanics in games.
"I don't know if he's overthrowing or just worried so much about mechanics," Hale said. "The great thing is that he's here today. He's good to go and he's ready to work. That's all we can do as a staff is to support him and keep him going. Like I said, at some point, it will come together and he's going to be a big help to us."
For the season, Miller is 0-1 with an 8.59 ERA in his first four starts of the season, a span of only 14 2/3 innings. He's allowed five home runs and walked 11 batters. He's also struck out 10. The D-backs traded outfielder Ender Inciarte, pitching prospect Aaron Blair and shortstop Dansby Swanson, the first overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, to the Braves for Miller and left-hander Gabe Speier last December.
"He's had the success before and we are not concerned," Hale said. "We just have to keep letting it go. A lot of times, inside he is getting worked up and trying to do too much. He just has to let it go and pitch. He's such a good teammate that the guys are rooting for him hard. We know he's going to get through this."
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.