In December 2015 the Arizona Diamondbacks completed a huge trade with Braves which landed them Gabe Speier and, their real target, Shelby Miller. They hoped that, together with their free agent prize, Zack Greinke, they would have one of the premier rotations in baseball and make a serious run in the National League West. And they gave up a lot to get him, losing Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte, and Aaron Blair in the process. Unfortunately for Arizona, this season has turned out to be anything but successful for Shelby Miller, so bad that he’s not even in the Majors anymore, and has recently been made available for trade.
So how bad has Shelby Miller been? Well he has a 7.14 ERA and a -0.3 WAR. He’s getting less strikeouts and has a BB/9 of 4.41. He’s also leaving less runners on base. Basically, he’s been horrible.
But what gives? Why is Shelby Miller so bad this season?
Well for starters Miller has a history of possibly getting a bit lucky. In each of his Major League seasons his ERA has been lower than his FIP. Since FIP is based solely on things that the pitcher can control, it’s fair to assume that other circumstances contributed to Miller’s success. His BABIP has also been below the league average in each season, which again could point to a little bit of luck.
Although it’s fair to say that Miller has gotten lucky throughout his career, it doesn’t explain the huge regression he’s experienced this year. There are obviously other forces at play. For one, Miller’s velocity is down a tick. This is a problem that impacts some pitchers more than most, and it’s definitely impacted Miller. But, he’s has also had control issues as previously mentioned. While he’s never been known for his pinpoint accuracy, he’s never walked opposing hitters at this rate. Combine all of this with the fact that his BABIP this season is .335, and it’s safe to say it’s going to be a rough season.
After everything that the Diamondbacks gave up to get him, it comes as little surprise that they’re now trying to get rid of him. They’re obviously hoping to get a little bit in return to save themselves from a total loss. But will teams bite? Well, it’s a definite possibility. Last season was Miller’s best, regardless of his 6-17 record, but he still posted a 3.02 ERA with a 3.45 FIP. So it’s obvious that there is some ability. He’s also still only 25 years old. There’s enough there for a desperate team to take a chance. And it’ll be a lot cheaper than what the Diamondbacks gave up.
Stats courtesy of FanGraphs.