Right-hander Shelby Miller of the Arizona Diamondbacks is recording more strikeouts this spring.
When the Arizona Diamondbacks traded for right-hander Shelby Miller, the organization believed there was a great of up-side and potential not realized. Coming to the desert, the Diamondbacks represented Miller’s third team in three years, and despite the positives regarding his ability, many wondered why he flew through a revolving door so quickly.
After a season of immense struggle and disappointment a year ago, Miller is ready to right his ship. He came to camp energized, focused and with a renewed dose of confidence.
What has been surprising this spring is the zip on his fastball and that pitch hitting the mid-90s and a few recorded in the upper 90s. The benefit of his new-found velocity is an increase in strikeouts. Miller clearly demonstrated that dimension of his game Friday afternoon at Salt River against the Seattle Mariners
In going 3.1 innings, Miller fanned eight hitters and struck out the side in the third. Afterward, he told Venom Strikes, while strikeouts are a by-product of greater velocity, his radar screen is blinking ahead for commencement of the season.
"It’s nice to get the swings and misses, but my pitch count was high. I need to do a better job of putting hitters away. I feel good but need to execute my pitches better."
At this point, Miller is penciled as the number two or three starter behind Zack Greinke. At the start of last season, that’s where the Houston native stood but ended a disastrous season with a 3-12 mark, an ERA of 6.15 for 20 starts at the major league level.
With those eight Ks against the Mariners, Miller now has 18 strikeouts in 11 innings. With likely two starts before the season begins, Miller told Venom Strikes there is work to be done.
"I must have wasted 10, 15 pitches (Friday) and that has to improve. In comparison to last season, I’m in a better place. I’m trying to be a pitcher and not a thrower."
Before Friday’s game with Seattle, the Diamondbacks assigned right-handed reliever Enrique Burgos to Triple-A Reno. In six spring games, Burgos had an 0-0 record and a 9.00 ERA. In six innings, he allowed six runs, all earned. In 43 games with the Diamondbacks last season, Burgos went 1-2, posted a 5.86 ERA and recorded one save.
There are 52 players remaining in camp, and the Diamondbacks, as well as all major league clubs, must be down to 25 players by opening day.
Teams usually carry at least one long reliever. That’s the pitcher, customarily a spot-starter, who can give the manager innings and not stretch out the bullpen early in games.
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For the past few seasons, Randall Delgado fulfilled that role and now, that may change. Coming into Friday’s game with Seattle, Delgado appeared in six spring games and sported a 1.50 ERA. He allowed just one run in six innings of work. Last season, the native of Panama appeared in 79 games, went 5-2 and posted a 4.04 ERA.
Manager Torey Lovullo could experiment without the need for a long reliever.
Speaking with Venom Strikes, Lovullo indicated that decision is not made at this point.
Right now, I don’t know if we’ll go with a long guy. We may or may not. That’s part of our discussions now, and we’ll make a determination as we get toward to end of spring training.