After a rough start to his 2016 season, the Arizona Diamondbacks will place Shelby Miller on the 15-day disabled list according to a report from Ken Rosenthal. Corresponding roster moves have yet to be confirmed.
The Diamondbacks acquired Miller via trade with the Atlanta Braves this offseason. In return for Miller and Gabe Speier, the Braves acquired Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson, and Aaron Blair. Per Minor League Ball, Swanson and Blair now represent the best and third-best prospects in the Braves' system respectively.
Sources: #DBacks placing Shelby Miller on DL today. Other moves likely.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 27, 2016
At the time of the trade even, there were plenty of takes that suggested the Diamondbacks decisively lost the deal. Miller's performance this season has only created even more ire.
In 45.2 innings, Miller has allowed 36 runs -- all earned -- on 56 hits and 29 walks. After giving up 13 home runs over the entire 2015 season, Miller has already allowed 10 this season in less than one quarter of the workload. His ERA is 7.09 -- 71 percent worse than the league average -- and his FIP is 6.59 -- 66 percent worse than the league average. Simply put, he just hasn't been the pitcher the Diamondbacks likely thought they were acquiring over the offseason.
The disabled-list stint is a result of a finger issue Miller has been battling this season. As he finishes his pitch, his fingers scrape against the dirt on the mound on occasion. The throbbing pain caused from it caused him to exit an April 16th start against the Padres after retiring only five batters.
It's unclear how much of his early season woes are actually related to this weird quirk in his delivery, but it's certainly unsettling. While the cuts on his knuckles shouldn't take especially long to heal, Miller's real battle going forward might be against his own mechanics.
There are a lot of ways this can affect a pitcher. The aforementioned throbbing can definitely steal some of a player's focus. Furthermore, Miller's already-split focus could then veer away from 'finishing his pitch' so as to avoid the repercussion of hurting his knuckle. That is to say, instead of following through his most comfortable arm angle or release point, Miller could actively be avoiding that and consequently suffering from adverse affects in his individual pitches' break and location.
Prior to the disabled list announcement and because of the command troubles, there were some who were suggesting Miller could benefit from a demotion. After trading very substantial assets to acquire him for what was thought to be a contending Diamondbacks' team, a move like that could have been pretty damning for Dave Stewart and the rest of the front office.
In electing to make it a trip to the disabled list, the Diamondbacks' organization seem to have curbed some perhaps-due criticism on the matter, while still allowing Miller to be designated for a rehab assignment if they so choose. If the Diamondbacks' coaching staff and Miller do decide to work on mechanics, this could be a longer process than 15 days. However, there is still time for the once highly-touted prospect to turn it around, and some work in the minors could definitely expedite that process.