In a series of roster moves, the D-Backs announced on Monday that right-hander Shelby Miller has been activated from the disabled list, while outfielder David Peralta has once again been placed on the 15-day DL — this time due to a lower back strain. Additionally, Arizona has optioned infielder/outfielder Brandon Drury to Triple-A Reno and recalled outfielder Socrates Brito in his place.
[Related: Updated Arizona Diamondbacks depth chart]
Miller returns to the Diamondbacks after landing on the DL last month with a sprained index finger in his pitching hand. Both team and player will be hoping for markedly better results this time around, as Miller’s woeful start to the season was one of the most talked-about early slumps of the year. In 45 2/3 innings, the 25-year-old posted a dreadful 7.09 ERA and averaged just 5.9 K/9 against an alarming 5.7 BB/9 with a 40 percent ground-ball rate that represented a significant decrease from last season’s career-best 47.7 percent. Miller’s struggles have contributed to a 4.72 ERA from Arizona starters that is currently tied with the Royals for 23rd in the Majors. Certainly, that wasn’t the result that Arizona execs Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa were expecting when signing Zack Greinke and trading a king’s ransom for Miller this offseason, but an injury to Rubby De La Rosa and struggles from lefties Robbie Ray and Patrick Corbin have all contributed to the problem.
Peralta’s trip to the disabled list will mark the second of the season for the 28-year-old. He’d previously missed about three weeks due to inflammation in his right wrist. It’s not immediately clear how long he’ll need to be out of action, but he’d been out of the lineup since last Wednesday as it is, and the D-backs seemingly no longer felt that they could play with a short bench. While he’s hitting just .259/.308/.442 on the season, Peralta’s injury further depletes the D-backs’ outfield depth, as A.J. Pollock and Chris Owings are each already on the disabled list.
A month ago, it might’ve seemed ridiculous to suggest that Drury would be optioned to the minors; as of May 20, he was hitting .309/.340/.547 and had forced his way into an everyday role — splitting time between the outfield, third base and, occasionally, second base. However, Drury has batted a paltry .200/.257/.262 since that time and, more troublesomely, struck out 21 times in 70 plate appearances (30 percent). The demotion will allow him to get everyday at-bats in the minors while giving Brito another crack at big-league pitching.
There are also some potential service time implications for Drury, who is up to 112 days of Major League service between his 2015 debut and 2016 season to date. He’ll need another 60 days on the big league roster to reach a full year of service, so the length of his stay in the minors will be worth monitoring. It’s also worth noting that the fact that Arizona chose to option Drury certainly doesn’t indicate that he’s fallen out of favor in any way; a report from just last night indicated that the versatile 23-year-old is held in high enough regard within the organization that the D-backs would likely ask the Mets for a controllable piece such as Zack Wheeler in a trade to acquire Drury.
As for Brito, his overall minor league batting line isn’t overly impressive, but he’s been on a tear over his past 20 games, batting .393/.409/.643 with a dozen extra-base hits (five doubles, five triples, two homers). From a service time standpoint, Brito would fall shy of a full year even if he sticks on the big league roster for the remainder of the season.