Miller embraces brave new world in Arizona
Newly acquired hurler goes from rebuilding team with poor offense to run-scoring contender
PHOENIX -- The last time Shelby Miller wore an Arizona Diamondbacks uniform, he won a championship.
Of course, that was back when Miller was 12 years old and playing Little League in Texas. But now as a Major Leaguer, the D-backs are hoping he can play a big role in getting them into the postseason in 2016.
The D-backs acquired Miller from the Braves during last week's Winter Meetings in exchange for outfielder Ender Inciarte, shortstop Dansby Swanson and right-hander Aaron Blair.
"Obviously with trade rumors going around, you never really know where you're going to land," Miller said. "But when I first found out I was going to Arizona, I was excited. Obviously it's an organization headed in the right direction, making some big moves to bring in some guys and trying to get in the winning way, and I'm excited to be a part of that. Couldn't be more happy about it."
Miller goes from a team in Atlanta that is in the midst of a rebuilding effort to one in Arizona which believes it can compete for the postseason this coming year.
It's also a big step up for Miller when it comes to offensive support. The D-backs finished second in the National League in runs scored last season with 720, while the Braves were last with 573.
"They've given me trouble and they have a lot of great hitters throughout the lineup, a lot of power," Miller said of Arizona's offense. "It's going to be a fun team to watch and a fun team to play for. Not only that, they're so defensively sound and have a lot of guys that make plays and lay out. Lot of exciting players to watch."
The increased offense should help improve Miller's won-loss record. Last season, the Braves didn't score a run for him while he was still in the game in 14 of his starts, which is a big reason why he went 6-17 despite a 3.02 ERA.
"Wins and losses is a great stat, you know everyone wants to win, but at the same time, you can go out and pitch a great game and still get the loss," Miller said. "It depends on how you look at it."
For Miller, the focus has always been to pitch as deep into a game as possible and give his team a chance to win. Whether he eventually gets credit for the win or not is less important.
Miller said last year he focused less on trying to throw the ball by hitters and more on getting them to put the ball on the ground by using his two-seam fastball more, as well as his cutter. Toward the end of the year, he even mixed in a split-finger fastball, which he throws just enough that hitters need to keep it in the back of their minds.
"Instead of trying to go out and strike guys out and be a power pitcher, I've kind of got the sinker and tried to get guys out as fast as possible," Miller said. "My motto is three pitches or less, and I think that helped me go deeper into games, I was more efficient."