Arizona Diamondbacks: Shelby Miller is ready for the season

Sep 17, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Shelby Miller (26) pitches during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 17, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Shelby Miller (26) pitches during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Right-hander Shelby Miller of the Arizona Diamondbacks wants to forget the past season and move forward.

While the actual rotation for the Arizona Diamondbacks will not be announced until later this week, that represents little concern to right-hander Shelby Miller. Hopeful to correct the wrongs of a year ago, Miller appears ready for the reconstruction project ahead.

By his own admission, Miller arrived in camp this spring with a changed disposition and a chip on his shoulder. A heightened level of confidence was detected as well as a quieter disposition. Whether his changed attitude translates into more wins and a lower ERA remains as part of the scenario ahead.

At best, last season was an aberration. In a high-profile trade with the Atlanta Braves, Miller was brought to the desert in hopes of forming a dynamic one-two, top-of-the-rotation force with Zack Greinke.

Instead, Miller failed miserably and ended with a 3-12 mark and an elevated 6.15 ERA in 20 starts. That also included an extended stay in the minors with Triple-A Reno. Still, Miller told Venom Strikes after his latest outing Monday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Salt River that the demons of last season have been exorcised and he is ready to move forward.

"Last year is so far behind and I’m not thinking about that. It’s time to focus on 2017. Last season is irrelevant."

One barometer of success is the ratio between hits allowed to innings pitched. If a pitcher records more innings than hits surrendered, that could be a measure of accomplishment. In Miller’s case, he allowed 17 hits in 15.1 innings in seven spring starts, including pitching in a minor-league game March 22 against the San Francisco Giants. His ERA for these pre-season games is 6.45 (1-1), and not much of an improvement over his season mark of a year ago.

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Against the Angels Monday, Miller lasted into the fifth inning, allowed five hits, two runs, both earned and fanned four hitters. Getting deep into counts was his malady. For his 4.1 innings, Miller tossed a spring-high of 94 pitches, and 56 for strikes.

More than numbers, Miller told Venom Strikes after his outing against the Angels he is ready for the season. Going forward, he indicated there is one aspect of his game which remains to be addressed.

"I have to do a better job of fast ball command. I thought my curve and cutter were okay (against the Angels), but I tried to overpower hitters and ended up wasting about 10 pitches. Right now, all pitches are doing what I want them to do but I need to focus on better fastball command."

Miller has one more outing before the season starts and that’s likely in a minor-league contest. With three pre-season games remaining on the calendar, Lovullo told Venom Strikes that Zack Greinke, Taijuan Walker, and Robbie Ray would start those games. On Thursday, Lovullo promised he would tell the media the exact rotation of his starters.

Roster moves

Before Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Arizona Diamondbacks reduced their roster by four players. Assigned to the organization’s minor league camp were catcher Hank Conger, right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, infielder Kristopher Negron and outfielder Reymond Fuentes.

Despite cut from the major-league roster, Fuentes and Negron will remain with the Diamondbacks throughout this week. That includes the final three pre-season games. Manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes that each had a strong camp and deserves an opportunity to finish spring training with the parent club.

"Any time you make these decisions, it’s difficult. You’ve put their dreams of playing in the major leagues on hold. I’m honest with each player and want to be as transparent as I can. In the case of Negron and Fuentes, they deserve to be here."


Right-hander Zack Greinke gets his final tune-up before opening day Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners in Peoria. In a marquee match-up, Greinke draws right-hander Felix Hernandez, the M’s opening day pitcher, as his opponent.

Next: Bench decisions await Lovullo

The Diamondbacks are off on Wednesday and conclude their spring slate with a pair of games Thursday and Friday nights at Chase Field against the Cleveland Indians.