Diamondbacks right Shelby Miller is set to embark upon a rehab assignment beginning tomorrow night, as MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert writes. That’s encouraging news for both player and team, as it suggests he’s now not all that far from returning to a MLB mound.
Miller, who’s about 13 months removed from Tommy John surgery, will be looking to reestablish himself in advance of his final season of arbitration eligibility. It’s not yet known exactly how many starts he will make in the minors. Presumably, that’ll be determined in no small part by how his elbow responds. The rules allow up to thirty days for a pitcher’s rehab assignment.
Last we saw him in the majors, Miller was giving reason to believe he could put his miserable 2016 season in the rearview mirror. He turned in three strong starts to open the ensuing campaign — including a fastball velocity boost (to 95.5 mph) and swinging-strike rebound (9.6%) — only to see the elbow problem arise and cut his season short.
The Arizona organization will hope that Miller can regain that momentum on the other side of his TJ rehab. There’s clearly some interesting upside; in 2015, Miller threw 205 1/3 innings of 3.02 ERA ball. Whether he has that kind of effort left in his 27-year-old right arm remains to be seen. Miller says he has “felt really good physically” but believes “there’s some room to work on some command stuff” as he prepares for his return to competitive action.
It’s notable, too, that lefty Robbie Ray has a notable date tomorrow. He’s due to have his injured oblique examined for progress. It’s even possible that he will throw a pen session if the imaging looks good. While we’ll obviously need to wait to see how the medical evaluation goes, it seems generally promising that these steps are even under contemplation at this point. Ray hit the DL about a month ago with what seemed to be a rather significant muscle injury.
The D-Backs undoubtedly miss Miller and Ray, particularly with the team presently enduring an extended slide. Every piece of talent helps, after all, even though run-prevention has been a notable strength to this point of the season. But the lagging offense is the real problem, and that’s an ongoing concern that won’t be addressed by the eventual return of those hurlers.
The player the Snakes miss most, surely, is center fielder A.J. Pollock. He’ll also be looked at tomorrow to see how his fractured thumb is healing. When that injury was announced, there was a fair bit of uncertainty in Pollock’s timeline, so the results will be of no little interest for a club that badly misses its most productive hitter through the first six weeks of the season. Pollock, too, is surely anxious to get back in action after missing so much time in recent seasons. Once he’s back, he’ll be looking to shore up his free-agent stock, which had been on the rise before he hit the DL.