Arizona Diamondbacks- report: Miller to start Wednesday

Jul 1, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller reacts as he leaves the game in the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 1, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller reacts as he leaves the game in the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Shelby Miller’s under-performance this season is a major reason why the Arizona Diamondbacks are in the cellar instead of contending. 

Sources have told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that right-hander Shelby Miller is expected to return to the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation Wednesday afternoon.

Miller is slated to start against the San Francisco Giants in the finale of a two game series at AT&T Park.

Making his weekly appearance on the Burns and Gambo show on Arizona Sports 98.7 F.M., manager Chip Hale said that he is not ready to announce who his starting pitcher will be for that Giants game. Before any decision is made, Hale is waiting to talk to Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa and General Manager Dave Stewart..

Hale did say that Miller has been able to use all of his pitches effectively in the minors, and Hale believes he is now better at preventing the big inning.

Travel arrangements have to made to transport Miller from Reno to San Francisco so he rejoin the team. Knowing that, an official announcement should come sooner rather than later. If Miller Miller starts Wednesday, a corresponding roster move must be made.

The 25-year-old has made 14 starts at the big-league level this season. In 69.1 innings pitched, Miller is 2-9 with a 7.14 ERA. He has struck out 50 opposing batters while walking 34, and he has surrendered 13 home runs. Miller has not won a game in Chase Field this season.

Hale and pitching coach Mike Butcher were encouraged after Miller’s first start since coming off the D.L. on June 20. He logged 6.2 innings of one run baseball against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

His mechanics quickly deserted him five days later against the Rockies at Coors Field. In an 11-6 loss, Miller gave up seven runs on 11 hits in six innings.

His last start on July 6 against the Giants was the last straw for the coaching staff. He gave up six runs in five innings of work.

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Miller was sent down to Triple-A on July 14 with the goal that he would figure out mechanical issues that plagued him throughout the first half.

At the time, Miller was surprised that he stayed with the Diamondbacks for as long as he did.

“You never want that to happen, Miller said at the time. “My goal is to go down there, figure some things out and get back here as quick as possible.”

Miller pitched well with Reno, and the hope is that he has figured out his mechanical issues. In eight starts across 50 2/3 innings with the Aces, he is 5-1 with a 3.91 ERA.

Miller missed time with a nagging finger injury. He suffered the injury in the second inning of a start against the Padres in San Diego. He suffered cuts on both kuckles of his right index finger.

Poor mechanics, including falling off the side of the mound, was the cause of the injury. Five days later in San Francisco, it happened again.

The Diamondbacks had high expectations for Miller this season. He was acquired in what is now a highly criticized trade with the Atlanta Braves last winter. Arizona gave up infielder Dansby Swanson, pitcher Aaron Blair, and outfielder Ender Inciarte in the deal.

Prior to this season, Miller never had an ERA above 3.74. He was the Rookie of the Year in the National League in 2011 with the Cardinals.

The front office was reportedly ready to trade Miller in late July before ownership said no.

By calling Miller up, the hope is that the Diamondbacks will be able to see what they have heading into the 2017 season.

Miller would need to return to the major league roster by Thursday to reach 172 days of service. He would move from the three plus to the four plus arbitration class. This would put him on track to reach free agency after the 2018 season.

As of August 25, Miller was sitting on 3.133 on his service clock. If Miller doesn’t return before Thursday, than the franchise would have him under contract through 2019. The Diamondbacks would still need to tender him an arbitration contract to keep him for 2017.

Next: Bradley, bullpen gain victory

Previously this season, Miller faced the Giants at AT&T Park on April 21. Here, he did not get out of the third inning. Miller walked four consecutive hitters in that frame. After issuing a free pass to Hunter Pence to force in a run, Hale went to Tyler Wagner, who gained his first major league victory in an eventual 6-2 Arizona win.