Shelby Miller was a very promising young player a long time ago, finishing third in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2013 after going 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA. But to illustrate how long ago that was, the two guys he finished behind were Jose Fernandez and Yasiel Puig. Nine years doesn’t seem that long, but Nolan Arenado is the only player who got RoY votes that year who is still both in the league and productive.
For Miller, the path was long and bumpy, with three solid seasons followed by six seasons of disaster. Since his only All-Star season in 2015, Miller has posted a 7.02 ERA with 65 games over since. But the Dodgers saw some promise in Miller and signed him to a one-year, $1.5 million deal early this offseason.
Miller, who is now a reliever, has already been working with the L.A. staff in Arizona, as Mike DiGiovanna reports in the Los Angeles Times.
Miller has begun throwing bullpen sessions with assistant pitching coach Connor McGuiness at the team’s spring training complex in Phoenix and is in constant phone contact with pitching coach Mark Prior.
He’s working on a split-fingered changeup, an 89-mph pitch with good diving action that he thinks “will be really good,” and an upper-80s cut-fastball.
“We’re seeing how we can tunnel pitches better off the heater and trying to perfect my craft a bit,” Miller said. “These guys are so knowledgeable. Connor and Mark are amazing dudes who know a lot about pitching, how to get guys out, how to get swings and misses, and how we can do this every day.” …
“My family and my friends kept me going, everyone telling me, ‘You still got it,’ just believing in me, making me not want to stop playing,” Miller said. “I have a lot left in the tank. I think I’m gonna have a big year in 2023. I’m excited for it.”
Miller’s stuff is still good, and there’s plenty of reason for optimism that he can be a successful reliever under the tutelage of Prior and McGuiness. You wonder if fixing pitchers is like a drug, where you need bigger and bigger challenges to get the same satisfaction. If they succeed with Miller, I have no idea what they’d do to top that. Todd Van Poppel, maybe?
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