Right-hander Shelby Miller of the Arizona Diamondbacks needs greater pitch command and control.
One of the important variables which manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks stressed this spring is consistency. That’s the barometer which leads to success.
In his three outings this spring, right-hander Shelby Miller has yet to display that consistency. After his second outing March 2 against the Chicago Cubs, Miller hit the radar gun in the upper 90s and blew through the opposition. In three innings, he allowed only one hit and was clearly dominant.
Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon at Salt River. Miller took his next turn at home again the Oakland A’s and displayed a clear disruption of pattern. If the Houston native was on target against the Cubs, his execution was far from consistent against Oakland. Sloppy with his curve ball and in and out with fastball command, Miller struggled through 57 pitches and one out into the third inning.
Before the game, manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes he wanted to stretch Miller out into the fourth inning, but Miller’s inconsistent pattern prevented from going further. Instead, Miller was hit hard with breaking balls he left over the plate, and allowed six earned runs in his 2.2 innings of work.
Afterward, Miller told Venom Strikes that the experience was another in a journey to right a terrible ship from last season. In 20 starts for Arizona a year ago, Miller went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and spent an uncomfortable amount of time in the minors.
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"I need to find my out of jams and that did not happen. I left pitches over the plate and that cost me. It’s back to basics and, I need to finish off curve balls to hitters."
At this point, this is about location. Lovullo indicated to Venom Strikes that Miller is checking off all of the mental boxes. Miller’s cerebral preparation appears on target and that captured the attention of his manager.
"I know Shelby is motivated by what happened last year. I’ve watched him behind the scenes and it’s impressive. There’s been great communication and he approaching his program with great desire. I thought he threw the ball well (Wednesday) and we protected his pitch count."
On the diamond
After the Diamondbacks staked Miller to a 5-0 after the first inning, the Arizona pitching staff fell apart. Save Miller yielding six runs, Archie Bradley allowed six earned runs in 1.1 innings and reliever Jared Miller gave up six runs, one earned, and walked four in 0.1 innings during an eventual, 21-13 loss to the A’s before 8,208. In the win, the A’s touched Arizona pitching for 11 runs in the sixth inning.
The loss dropped the Diamondbacks to 6-6 for their spring slate.
Show me the numbers
Left-fielder Yasmany Tomas is off to a challenging start this spring. Coming into Tuesday’s game with Oakland at Salt River, the Cuban native was 0-for-17 with four strikeouts. That’s following a .272 season a year ago with 31 home runs and 83 RBIs. Tomas was not in the starting lineup Wednesday.
With less than one month before regular season play, manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes he has no issue with Tomas’ bat nor his lack of production this spring.
"This is a process and some guys take a little longer. What he did last season was not a fluke. There’s minimum concern with (Tomas) at 0-for-17."
Right-hander Zack Grienke gets his second outing of the spring Wednesday and will face Team Mexico at Salt River. Manager Torey Lovullo indicated to Venom Strikes that he will stretch Greinke out. With 31 pitches in his first appearance of the spring last Friday against the Dodgers, the forecast has Greinke going three innings or around a 50-pitch count.
Team Mexico is scheduled to start left-hander Daniel Rodriguez, who was 9-4, a 3.95 ERA and 21 starts for Saltillo in the Mexican League last year.
Back across the Phoenix metro area on Thursday and a bus ride to Camelback Ranch in Glendale. Here, the Diamondbacks face the Chicago White Sox. Left-hander Patrick Corbin, coming off a strong outing against San Diego last Saturday, gets the start for Arizona.