The Arizona Diamondbacks went out and improved their starting rotation by acquiring Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller in the offseason.
Each right-hander has had a turn on the mound early in the 2016 season, and the results have been — for lack of a better term — unexpected.
Monday night in the season opener, the Colorado Rockies roughed up Greinke for seven runs on nine hits in just four innings on their way to a 10-5 win.
Tuesday, it was Miller’s turn. The 25-year-old allowed six runs on eight hits in six innings of work, but the D-backs rallied for an 11-6 win.
Both pitchers allowed three home runs in their starts. They combined to give up 27 homers in 427.2 innings last season.
D-backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa had a reminder for fans who may have been critical of the newcomers in the first two games of the season.
“They are men, not machines,” La Russa told Doug and Wolf Wednesday morning on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “Just because they are really talented, they know the expectations. They got excited.”
La Russa said he spoke with advisor Dave Duncan about what he saw from Greinke and Miller.
“He’s very perceptive,” La Russa said. “He said ‘give them two or three starts. Give them two or three starts, let them settle in, realize they’ve got another 30 and just concentrate on pitching your game instead of being distracted.’
“I really believe that one of the biggest hurdles a player or team has could be the distractions of ‘what if.’ What if we don’t play well or get off to a good start? People will think we’re bad. What if I don’t contribute? In the end, you’ve got to tune everything out, take your best shot and just concentrate on making your pitches and taking your at-bats.”
La Russa, who won three World Series rings as a manager, isn’t worried about the duo.
“I think these guys will be horses for us,” he said.
Greinke is scheduled to make his second start Saturday night against the Chicago Cubs at Chase Field. Miller will take the mound in the finale of the four-game series Sunday afternoon against reigning National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta.