If Saturday's rehab start with Class A Advanced Visalia was a big league audition for Shelby Miller, he should pack for Phoenix now.The D-backs' veteran right-hander struck out 10 over 6 2/3 dominant innings as the Rawhide blanked San Jose, 8-0, at Municipal Stadium.
If Saturday's rehab start with Class A Advanced Visalia was a big league audition for Shelby Miller, he should pack for Phoenix now.
The D-backs' veteran right-hander struck out 10 over 6 2/3 dominant innings as the Rawhide blanked San Jose, 8-0, at Municipal Stadium.
Miller allowed three hits, walked none and needed only 81 pitches in his fourth rehab start but easily his best.
"He mixed everything in," Visalia pitching coach Jeff Bajenaru said. "He didn't throw many changeups or splits, whatever you want to call it, but he threw the slider, curveball, cutter, fastball. He looked good."
In his previous outing with Double-A Jackson, the 27-year-old last just three innings and surrendered eight runs on nine hits.
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"The start in Jackson -- no excuses, because he wouldn't make any -- but he had a little kink in his neck, but he still wanted to give himself innings. He didn't pitch well and he wouldn't make excuses, but if you sent him back to Jackson, I think he'd do fine," Bajenaru siad.
Miller (1-0), who underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2017, was on target from the outset, striking out two in the opening inning. He gave up a two-out bunt single in the second to Johneshwy Fargas but picked him off and retired 16 of his final 17 batters, striking out half of them.
Bajenaru said some pitchers treat rehab appearances like side sessions, looking to work on things. But he believes Miller's approach is different.
"I think it's different for everybody, but at this point, I think he's looking to get guys out. He's looking to compete," the coach said.
The Rawhide supported Miller with 12 hits, three of them singles by shortstop Camden Duzenack. Dominic Miroglio doubled, singled and drove in three runs, while Adam Walton singled twice, walked and plated two.
Mac Marshall started for San Jose and struck out four over three scoreless innings, but relievers DJ Myers (3-2) and Jeff Burke surrendered eight runs on nine hits in a combined 3 2/3 innings.
Miller tore his right ulnar collateral ligament on April 23, 2017. After getting three different opinions, he opted for surgery rather than try rest and rehabilitation. It was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
Bullpen sessions started roughly eight months into his rehab, after range-of-motion exercises and playing catch.
"For me, it's always been baby steps and trying to take it slow," Miller told MLB.com last month. "It's tough, but I'm getting closer, so it's exciting."
The D-backs are in first place in the NL West at 39-31, holding a 1 1/2-game lead on the resurgent Dodgers. But with right-hander Taijuan Walker out for the season and Robbie Ray also on the comeback trail, Miller could step into a spot when he's ready.
Bajenaru said he's getting close.
"As a former player, I would definitely be thinking about that," he said about a return to the Majors. "Especially as well as he threw. But he's a realist and he knows that might not be the case right now.
"He still has to fine-tune a couple of things, really like his backdoor cutter. But the curveball looks sharp and the heater was good tonight."
Vince Lara-Cinisomo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @vincelara.