It might only have been three innings, might only have been spring training, but right-hander Shelby Miller’s performance on Thursday night was perhaps his most impressive in a Diamondbacks uniform.
Featuring an electric fastball that topped at 99 mph, Miller struck out six in three innings of one-hit ball.
It was perhaps the closest Miller has looked to the pitcher the Diamondbacks thought they were acquiring in the controversial trade from December 2015, a deal that sent shortstop Dansby Swanson, outfielder Ender Inciarte and right-hander Aaron Blair to the Atlanta Braves.
“I felt like the ball had some extra life on it,” Miller said. “Off of some of the swings they took, that’s kind of how you judge it, I guess. And plus my arm feels good at this point right now.”
Miller battled new Cubs leadoff man Kyle Schwarber in a nine-pitch at-bat to open the game, getting him to pop out to short. He hit 97 mph seven times in the first, including on the final pitch of the inning, a fastball he threw past Miguel Montero.
He punched out two more in the second then struck out the side in the third.
“I feel good,” he said. “My confidence is where it needs to be. I’ve still got some things I need to work on, stuff I need to stay true to and keep working, do all the things I need to do in between starts to make myself better. Mentally, physically and my confidence is good. I’m going to stay that way.”
Miller had a miserable 2016 season, posting a 6.15 ERA and spending much of the second half in the minors following a midseason demotion.