Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller settling in with new team
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) In just a short time, right-hander Shelby Miller has found a home with the Arizona Diamondbacks and new pitching coach Mike Butcher.
''It feels good,'' Miller said Sunday after throwing his second official bullpen session. ''There are little adjustments Butch and I are working on already. He's just got such knowledge of the game.''
Both of Miller's bullpens so far have been slight adventures as he's worked through some of those suggestions, such as lowering his glove to waist level out of the stretch to reduce tension in his shoulders.
''My first wasn't very good but today I threw a really good bullpen,'' said Miller, who was visibly unhappy on a handful of pitches that moved away from where he wanted them. ''It's always frustrating when you don't make a pitch, even though I know this is just make-believe.''
The Diamondbacks paid a considerable price to obtain Miller, who subsequently signed a one-year deal with Arizona in January to avoid arbitration. Arizona shipped shortstop Dansby Swanson, the top overall pick in the 2015 amateur draft, along with outfielder Ender Inciarte and minor league pitcher Aaron Blair to acquire Miller and a minor league pitcher.
All was done with the hope that the Miller the Diamondbacks see is more like the first-half pitcher who posted a 2.38 ERA and held the opposition to .291 on-base percentage in his sole season in Atlanta, rather than the second-half version who allowed a .327 OBP and 3.83 ERA.
Miller was an All-Star last year after a good start, but finished 6-17. A lack of run support severely hurt his won-lost record.
''He's been locating the ball and has spent some time working on his breaking ball,'' said Arizona manager Chip Hale, who also has watched Miller in some pre-spring training workouts. ''At times, he's breaking (pitches) off the table. But like I often say, the batters will let us know how guys are going.''
Miller comes to Arizona without the pressure of being the staff ace - that belongs to left-hander Zack Greinke, who signed a six-year, $206.5 million free-agent deal to top the Diamondbacks' rotation following three seasons pitching behind Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles.
Miller has been slotted from the start as Arizona's No. 2 starter, preceded by Greinke and followed by Patrick Corbin and, as announced Saturday, Rubby De La Rosa.
''Our rotation's looking great,'' said Miller, who was 26-18 his first two-plus seasons with St. Louis before last year's 6-17 final mark. ''We're all different in certain ways.''
Hale echoed Miller, saying his starters all have a ''different deception to them.''
''Patrick has that high arm angle. For Shelby, he really has a generally good downward plane to his pitches,'' Hale said. ''I like that.''
Adding Miller to the existing mix has fit in well with general manager Dave Stewart's effort to build a younger, pre-free agency pitching staff - Greinke excluded - with a high degree of cost control not just this year but in the coming seasons.
''I've tried to do what I can to build depth in our young pitching,'' Stewart said. ''Robbie (Ray, the current leader for the final rotation spot) is 24, Rubby is 26. Shelby Miller's only 25. I don't like the phrase `under control,' but we're going to have these guys for a long period of time.''