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Arizona Diamondbacks: A Look At Shelby Miller’s First Start Back

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MIAMI, FL - JUNE 25: Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks making his season debut throws a pitch pitch in the first inning during the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 25, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 25: Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks making his season debut throws a pitch pitch in the first inning during the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 25, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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The Arizona Diamondbacks received a boost to their rotation on Monday, in a long-awaited return for a key starting pitcher. While it wasn’t without its bumps along the way, there were certainly some encouraging signs moving forward.

Shelby Miller has had a long road back from Tommy John Surgery. He hasn’t pitched since making a pair of starts at the beginning of 2017. His subsequent rehab held him out of the bigs for over a year. Not a completely unreasonable timeline for TJS. But on Monday night in Miami, he was back. The results weren’t terrific overall. However, in your first start after Tommy John, health is going to be the most important thing.

In throwing 85 pitches, Miller certainly looked healthy, at the very least. Again, most important thing. The results were less spectacular, though. Miller made it through only 3 2/3 innings, surrendering five runs off six hits and a pair of walks. He did strike out five in the outing, though. A first inning homer to Justin Bour accounted for his first run allowed of the night. Starlin Castro singled in a run in the third, before three runs in the fourth proved Miller’s undoing.

After the game, neither Shelby Miller nor Torey Lovullo were too upset over the result. And their respective reactions really spoke to what the pitcher is trying to accomplish his first game back from TJS. It’s getting through the outing healthy. Was his command off? Definitely. Did he throw far too many pitches? Absolutely. He even said it himself.

In his first start back, Miller relied exclusively on a four-seam, curveball combination. There was no sign of a cutter or a sinker in the outing. The really encouraging thing there is that he was touching 95 with the fastball. In his first start back, the velocity is there. Now it’s just a matter of the command following. He simply wasn’t getting enough swings, especially on the four-seamer. Opposing hitters swung less than 45% of the time against the fastball. The command just wasn’t there. Again, though. Health and velocity in the outing is key.

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And that’s what the Diamondbacks received from Miller in his first start back. He got through it healthy. He showed some flashes. Now, it’s a matter of building on it. He seems relatively confident, and with the fastball looking lively, it’s just a matter of command moving into his next start. We’ll monitor it closely.

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