The Milwaukee Brewers have signed another veteran pitcher to minor league deal. Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the team has agreed to terms with Shelby Miller, a little over a week after they signed Drew Smyly.
It’s a minor-league deal for Shelby Miller with the #Brewers, per source.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 11, 2019
Miller was once a very promising prospect for the St. Louis Cardinals. Over 370 innings for St. Louis, Miller limited the opposition to a 3.33 ERA. The Cardinals then dealt him to the Atlanta Braves for Jayson Heyward. There, Miller put together one of his best professional season. He made 33 starts, covered 205.1 innings and carried a 3.02 ERA.
The very next season, Atlanta traded Miller to Arizona for a prospect haul and he’s never thrown more than 101 innings in a season since. Miller struggled with a pitiful performance and injury in 29 games over three seasons. His already troubling walk rate climbed well above 4 per 9 in his final two seasons and a WHIP of 2.000 in 2018.
During his time with the Diamondbacks, Miller underwent Tommy John Surgery. Dr. James Andrews performed the operating back in 2017.
Over the offseason, Miller agreed to a deal with the Texas Rangers. There he made eight starts, but struggled mightily in his 44 innings. His walk rate (5.9 per nine) almost equaled his strikeout total (6.1 per nine).
Miller’s velocity still sits in the mid-90s on his fastball, and has seen only a slight decline in his speed on his pitches in recent years. One interesting change in trends for Miller is how the diversity of his pitches has changed. In 2015, Miller was throwing his cutter 22% of the time, his sinker 23% of the time and his four seamer 44% of the time. He has only thrown the sinker more than 5% of the time in other season and has used the cutter substantially less over the years.
While the sinker wasn’t a valuable pitch with the Braves (-2.3 runs above average on the pitch), it helped his cutter be more successful in 2015 (14.8 runs above average). Meanwhile, he’s now throwing his fastball over 60% of the time and transitioned most of his pitch volume from his cutter and sinker to his curveball. The curve has awful value in his repertoire, sitting at -5.5 runs above average.
It will be interesting to see how Milwaukee plans to adjust his pitch strategy. Miller is still just 28 and can jump right back into throwing. If the Brewers can correct his flaws, even against Miller’s comfort level, it could pay large dividends for the team as they hunt for the playoffs.