The Cubs have selected right-hander Shelby Miller from their alternate training site in South Bend, per a team announcement. The Cubs also reinstated righty Jason Adam from the injured list and optioned righty Adbert Alzolay and lefty Brad Wieck to the alternate site. These moves come in addition to the reinstatement of Austin Romine and the DFA of Tony Wolters, which were announced earlier in the day.
A first-round pick in 2009, third-place Rookie of the Year finisher in 2013 and All-Star in 2015, Miller appeared to be on a trajectory to superstardom not long ago. He debuted in the Majors as a 21-year-old in 2012 and over the next four seasons tossed 575 1/3 innings of 3.22 ERA ball between the Cardinals and the Braves. The Cards sent him to Atlanta as part of the return for then-star outfielder Jason Heyward, and Atlanta flipped him a year later when the D-backs offered up shortstop Dansby Swanson just months after he’d been selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
Miller’s career fell off a cliff almost immediately after the trade. The righty lost some velocity, lost his control of the strike zone and began giving up considerably more hard contact, leading to more home runs. He was eventually optioned to Triple-A by the D-backs, and the following season he underwent Tommy John surgery. Miller attempted a comeback with the Rangers in in 2019 but had even worse results than he did in Arizona. He’s since spent time with the Brewers organization but didn’t pitch for them in the Majors.
All told, Miller has pitched just 183 big league innings since the conclusion of that All-Star campaign in 2015. He’s been rocked for a 6.89 ERA and 5.21 FIP in that time. Miller did, however, put together a very nice spring showing with the Cubs. In 12 innings, he held opponents to just two earned runs on nine hits and six walks with 16 strikeouts.
There’s little harm for the Cubs in trying to catch lightning in a bottle with Miller, even if recent history provides little indicator that a turnaround is on the horizon. It’ll surprise many readers to learn that he’s still just 30 years old,, and we’ve seen unexpected resurgences at considerably later points in pitchers’ careers than this.