Arizona Diamondbacks

Shelby Miller is returning right when the Diamondbacks need him

Shelby Miller has not pitched for the Diamondbacks since April 2017, but he is expected to re-join the starting rotation soon.

Shelby Miller has not pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks since April of 2017, due to an elbow issue and subsequent Tommy John surgery. But according to Nick Piecoro of the AZ Central Sports, Miller is expected to be activated from the 60-day disabled list in time to make his season debut next Monday against the Miami Marlins.

Miller was an All-Star for the Atlanta Braves in 2015, and the Arizona Diamondbacks gave up Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair to get him the following offseason. Miller struggled badly in 2016 (6.15 ERA over 20 starts), along with a demotion to Triple-A for a time, then the elbow injury sidelined him early last season.

Miller posted a 4.66 ERA over four rehab starts (19.1 innings). But his 28:6 K/BB ratio (13.0 K/9, 2.8 BB/9) looks good, even against minor league hitters. In his most recent outing, Miller pitched 6.2 shutout innings with 10 strikeouts and just three hits allowed.

The Diamondbacks have been working around injuries to Taijuan Walker (elbow-Tommy John surgery) and Robbie Ray (oblique) lately, though Ray recently started a rehab assignment. Clay Buchholz has been a great find, with two runs or less allowed over at least five innings in five of his six starts (2.94 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP over 33.2 innings overall). But Arizona can’t rely on him maintaining that level, as they try to stay stave off the Dodgers in the National League West.

Miller had a 3.27 ERA over three full seasons (2013-2015) with the Cardinals and Braves, followed by far worse over 24 starts with the Diamondbacks (5.78 ERA) as an odd mechanical issue surfaced in 2016 and may have led to his elbow issue. Somewhere between those two points is sure to be fine for the Diamondbacks now, as Miller simply has to be a reliable back end of the rotation starter.

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