Shelby Miller and the Arizona Diamondbacks blew out the Friars on Tuesday night at Petco Park
The Arizona Diamondbacks are 10-5 for the first time since 2002. Right-hander Shelby Miller helped the team get there on Tuesday night in San Diego.
Miller became the first starter this season to pitch into the eighth inning. He surrendered one earned run and four hits. The 26-year-old walked two and struck out five. Miller lowered his ERA from 5.06 to 3.50.
This was also his longest outing as a Diamondback. Miller worked hard on his mechanics this spring. He wanted to get the ball out of his glove faster during his windup. Last season, Miller struggled to find his footing on the mound and he had the worst season of his career.
Diamondbacks pitching coach Mike Butcher told MLB.com that Miller is in a great place.
"“He’s definitely confident,” Butcher said. “He’s in a really good place. I know I keep saying the same thing, but he’s in a really good place mentally, physically, emotionally. Tonight was a big night for him to go out there and pitch well. It was just really good to see.”"
The wins stat is often set aside in the era of sabermetrics, but Miller earned his second win of 2017 Tuesday. He won a total of three games in 2016 and six with the Atlanta Braves in 2015.
A starting pitcher often sets the tone for the game. A quality start often leads to a win for the pitcher and the team. Sabermetricians are not fans of a pitcher’s record, but at the end of the day, winning is all that matters.
Miller spoke to MLB.com after his outing and said, “my biggest thing was to try to get back to winning, not only for myself but for the team.”
Manager Torey Lovullo wants every starter to get at least 21 outs. Miller managed 22, and that’s because he was pitch efficient.
Miller threw a total of 101 pitches and averaged 15 or fewer pitches in six of his seven complete innings. Miller had a rough third but bounced back with an 11-pitch fourth. Over 60 percent of his pitches were strikes.
Facing the Padres, Miller primarily relied on a four-seam fastball and his cutter. A pitcher does not always need a breaking or offspeed pitch in a given outing if he is able to change speeds and locations.
Miller felt his cutter and he combined that with an electric fastball up in the zone. He generated weak contact and effectively jammed lefties and hit the outside corner to righties. The cutter is a popular pitch because it often misses the bat’s sweet spot
The cutter is a popular pitch because it often misses the bat’s sweet spot. Miller induced 10 groundouts compared to just three flyouts.
The Padres are scuffling as a team at the plate, but they are still major-league hitters. Miller executed and deserved the credit.
Miller’s average four-seam fastball velocity has spiked from 94.12 mph to 95.8 mph. He reached a different stratosphere on Tuesday.
In the first inning, Miller struck out Padres first baseman Will Myers on a 99 mph fastball. Miller appeared to throw harder later in the game. In several spring training games, Miller was clocked in the mid to upper 90s.
Against San Diego, Miller threw 57 four-seam fastballs and averaged 96 mph. Miller was still touching 95 and 96 in the seventh inning and he probably could have completed the eighth and possibly pitched the ninth.
Improved mechanics remain a significant factor for Miller’s improvement in 2017.. Miller threw 28 cutters and averaged 89 mph. The change in speed and location appeared to fool Padres hitters.
Miller will face a tougher test in his next start against the Dodgers. The hope is that Tuesday’s performance was not a once an aberration.
The Diamondbacks will go for the series win on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m MST. Look for RHP Zack Greinke to face RHP Jhoulys Chacin.
For more on tonight’s game read the Padres’ series preview.
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