The Arizona Diamondbacks have found a way to get Shelby Miller out of their rotation, placing him on the 15-day DL with a “right finger sprain”. His staggeringly bad start surely has nothing to do with it.
When the Arizona Diamondbacks decided to shell out $206 million dollars, and trade away their recent #1 overall pick they expected to be building a league-leading rotation. After all, adding Cy Young winner Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller to any rotation would make it better, let alone one that already had a promising young star in Patrick Corbin.
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What they’ve received instead, is a group that ranks 15th and 13th in ERA and FIP respectively in the National League. They are dead last in home runs allowed, and are walking people at an alarming rate. The worst offender, Miller, has put up a 7.09 ERA and walked almost as many batters as he’s struck out. While GM Dave Stewart recently discussed possibly sending Miller to AAA to try and get his game back, on Friday the team decided to place both him and fellow struggling starter Rubby de la Rosa on the 15-day DL.
While the timing of his “strained right-finger” may seem fishy, getting Miller some time away might be the best thing for him and the team. The Diamondbacks gave up outfielder Ender Inciarte, stud pitching prospect Aaron Blair and the aforementioned top pick Dansby Swanson to get Miller from the Atlanta Braves, in one of the most lopsided trades in history even if Miller performed well. The ability that he’s shown thus far in Arizona will make it even harder to swallow for Diamondback fans; they’ve already seen Blair make his debut in the Major Leagues and won’t have to wait long for Swanson.
Despite pitching to a 4.00 ERA through his first eight starts, de la Rosa actually leads the Arizona staff on the year. After coming over from Boston for Wade Miley before last season, the 27-year old right-hander has been inconsistent for the Diamondbacks and will now miss at least a month with elbow inflammation. For a pitcher who has already undergone Tommy John surgery once in his career (back in 2011 when he was with the Dodgers), even the slightest elbow troubles are frightening.
For the time being the Diamondbacks have activated Josh Collmenter from the disabled list to rejoin the bullpen, and penciled in former top-prospect Archie Bradley to fill one of the rotation spots. Bradley was scratched from his start for AAA Reno on Thursday and will return to the club for another audition in the rotation. In the two starts he had earlier this year he continued to walk batters, issuing seven free passes and allowed nine runs. The Diamondbacks will hope he can finally unlock some of the potential that made him a 7th overall pick, and landed him on four straight top 25 prospect lists.
The most exciting move made, at least for Diamondback fans, is the promotion of 25-year old slugger Peter O’Brien who has been absolutely mashing at the AAA level, hitting .306/.330/.601 with 12 home runs coming into Saturday.
While the Diamondbacks struggle to find any sort of consistency this season, one has to start asking questions about whether or not Stewart and the front office that has made some of these deals will start to feel a little heat from ownership. The outspoken GM doesn’t have a great track record thus far, and with a 21-29 record despite close to $100 million in salaries his tenure in Arizona could be coming to an end.