D-backs mull rotation options, Shelby Miller seeks second opinion on elbow
PHOENIX — Shelby Miller will seek a second opinion on his right elbow inflammation that caused forearm stiffness in his Sunday start. In the meantime, the Arizona Diamondbacks will mull over every option moving forward for a short-term or long-term replacement in the starting rotation.
“We want to be as thorough as we possibly can to make sure that is the right decision and the right choice,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said Monday before his team opened its series against the San Diego Padres. “There’s a couple moving parts here.”
Miller said his first MRI showed elbow inflammation but didn’t go into specifics, and Lovullo didn’t want to speculate before the right-handed pitcher seeks a second opinion in Los Angeles on Tuesday from Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. ElAttrache is on the board of directors of the orthopedic clinic co-founded by Frank Jobe, who was the first to perform Tommy John surgery.
Neither Lovullo nor Miller said whether the pitcher’s MRI showed signs of anything more than inflammation.
“I think we’re still looking into all that information right now,” Lovullo said. “We don’t have a complete thought as to exactly what that is and what extent, what’s causing that inflammation.”
Added Miller: “I think that’s just kind of why we’re gathering together to kind of bring it all in and see where what we want to do and where we’ll go from there, and what we’ll do in the future to get me healthy and right.
“I guess there’s some kind of chance (of surgery), but I don’t know too much right now.”
For the time being, Arizona recalled reliever Silvino Bracho just to give the team an extra arm for Monday night. Lovullo said former starter and long reliever Archie Bradley was available for the Monday tilt but was also in consideration for earning a starting job to replace Miller, who is on the 10-day disabled list.
Bradley had not had discussions with the team about potentially starting and said he was only concerned about Miller’s health.
He admitted he’d love to take his success in the bullpen — Bradley has a 0.79 ERA and has allowed seven hits, one earned run, three balls and 12 strikeouts in 11.1 innings — and put it on display for more than two or three innings. Bradley added that his pitch mix and mindset wouldn’t change much.
“I think obviously I’d have to change a little bit but with the way I’ve been throwing the ball, I’m not going to change too much,” he said. “Definitely excited to see what would happen. As of now, I’m in the bullpen and that’s where we’re at.”
Lovullo said that Bradley’s success in the bullpen has also led to some discussion of keeping him in his current role.
“I could see it either way,” Bradley said. “That’s why they make those decisions.”
The D-backs’ other potential options for replacing Miller could include Triple-A Reno pitchers Zack Godley, Braden Shipley or Anthony Banda. Godley and Shipley have MLB experience.
Godley could be the favorite after he won the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week award on Monday. He owns a 2.55 ERA with Reno and was scheduled to start the same night against El Paso but was a late scratch and replaced by Single-A call-up Joel Payamps.
Lovullo said after the D-backs’ 7-6 win over the Padres the team shut down Godley to keep the team’s options open and reiterated it was not a sign a decision has been reached.
Meanwhile, Miller (2-2, 4:09 ERA) awaits further evaluation as the D-backs hope for positive news.
“I mean, he made me feel better when I saw the smile on his face,” Lovullo said of Miller’s attitude on Monday. “It’s a tough day for us.”
— Paul Goldschmidt is taking his first day off on Monday after 20 straight appearances to start the year. “We all know Goldy, he wasn’t very happy,” Lovullo said. “I said, ‘You can throw me against the wall, punch me in the face and it’s still not going to change my mind.’ He said, ‘OK, I understand where you’re coming from.'”