Rick Porcello’s Rebound Could Provide Hope for Shelby Miller

The prospect haul that the Arizona Diamondbacks gave up for Shelby Miller was an overpay from the beginning.

This past offseason, the Atlanta Braves traded Miller and minor league pitcher Gabe Speier to the D-backs for outfielder Ender Inciarte, right-hander Aaron Blair and shortstop Dansby Swanson.

Swanson has a .314 batting average right now in the minors, while Inciarte is batting .217 in the majors after dealing with an injury to start the year. Blair has a 7.59 ERA in the majors thus far, but has made only five starts. Swanson is showing tremendous potential and Blair and Inciarte’s numbers come from a very small sample-size, so there’s really no need to worry.

However for the Diamondbacks, there is a lot of worry about regarding Miller’s performance.

Currently, Miller is 1-5 with a 6.64 ERA in nine starts. He averages just a bit north of 4.1 innings per start. Of pitchers with a minimum of 40 innings pitched, only two others have a worse ERA and the same is true with his WHIP.

Last year, Miller pitched to a 3.02 ERA with the Braves, while also going 6-17. The 17 losses were in large part due to absolutely no run support. Nonetheless, Miller really is only a middle-of-the-rotation guy.

With what the Diamondbacks gave up for him, they made it look as if they were expecting Miller to be the number-two starter and really be just under “ace” Zack Greinke, who isn’t doing too well himself.

But for the Diamondbacks and Miller, there is room for optimism. It just may not come this year.

A similar comparable is easily Rick Porcello with the Boston Red Sox.

(May 10, 2016 - Source: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images North America)

(May 10, 2016 – Source: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images North America)

Porcello came to the Red Sox via trade with the Detroit Tigers. The Sox gave up Yoenis Cespedes just to get him. He also signed a four-year, $82.5 million contract before even taking the rubber as a member of the Red Sox.

For someone who had always been a middle of the rotation starter, and for someone who’d only had an ERA under four twice and under 3.50 once, I can see how that would be daunting.

The fear was palpable in 2015 when he went 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA. He was even worse at the beginning of the season before going down to injury. The trading away of Cespedes looked awful and the extension looked even worse.

Now it doesn’t look so bad, as this year is much different. Porcello is currently 6-2 with a 3.51 ERA and looks much more comfortable on the mound.

The moral of the story is that Miller may have a strenuous and back-breaking rest of 2016. But what he can do in 2017 will be what really should define him. He’ll show his true worth in 2017: his second year. He’s new, there’s a lot of pressure on him, and he needs time to adapt to Arizona.

The great Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

For Miller, he is currently in the stages of the finite disappointment that MLK speaks of. His hope may in fact come from 2,500 miles away as another once-struggling arm turns it around in Boston.

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