Before Shelby Miller takes the mound Saturday against his former team, the Atlanta Braves, his Arizona Diamondbacks faced one player in the offseason trade package used to acquire him.
Aaron Blair made his third major-league start for Atlanta on Friday, going five innings and allowing three runs (two earned) and five hits while walking four.
The 23-year-old again put up a decent fight but again got no help in an eventual 7-2 Arizona victory.
The Braves didn’t score until the sixth inning, and the D-backs’ unearned run only occurred because of two Atlanta mistakes and a terrible — albeit lucky — baserunning decision by Arizona.
When a Welington Castillo hit got past Braves third baseman Reid Brignac, left fielder Adonis Garcia chased the ball down, but his throw to home plate was poor enough that Arizona’s David Peralta scored despite being four or five steps too slow. Garcia’s throw easily beat Peralta, but it didn’t arrive remotely close to the plate and catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
Regardless of how his teammates have played, Blair has held strong so far in his brief major league career.
He first appeared April 24 and went 5.1 innings against the Mets, allowing three runs in a 3-2 loss. Blair followed that with six innings against the Cubs. He allowed just two hits and one earned run, but the bullpen folded in a 6-1 loss.
Regarding the trade between the Braves and Diamondbacks, to call it an Atlanta win is obviously premature even with Miller’s struggles that he will hope to end on Saturday. Arizona’s second-biggest offseason acquisition has averaged less than four innings pitched through six starts and has an 8.49 ERA — he’s allowed 22 earned runs in just 23.1 innings pitched.
Like Miller and Blair, the other players involved in the deal, Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte, haven’t found the greatest success to begin their careers with the Braves organization.
Inciarte lasted just three games this season before injuring his hamstring but will be activated from the 15-day disabled list Saturday, presumably setting him up to also face his former team.
Meanwhile, Swanson started off in high-A ball after the Diamondbacks drafted him No. 1 overall before trading him to Atlanta. He was recently promoted to Double-A Mississippi and through five games is hitting .450, but the shortstop remains several steps away from proving himself as a major-leaguer.
What we’ve learned from the trade is that fresh starts don’t always begin with positive results.
Like Blair’s evening, Miller’s start and Inciarte’s potential return on Saturday is just the next paragraph to a larger chapter.