Shelby Miller's rough Diamondbacks' tenure continues with UCL tear

Mark TownsendYahoo Sports Contributor
Big League Stew
Diamondbacks right-hander Shelby Miller might be headed for Tommy John surgery after being diagnosed with a UCL tear. (AP)
Diamondbacks right-hander Shelby Miller might be headed for Tommy John surgery after being diagnosed with a UCL tear. (AP)

Just when it looked like Shelby Miller might be hitting his stride with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the 26-year-old right-hander has been dealt a major blow.

The team announced on Thursday that Miller has a tear in his UCL and a flexor strain, which will sideline him for an indefinite period.

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Miller left his Sunday start against the Los Angeles Dodgers with forearm tightness, which is often associated with UCL damage. He underwent an MRI and sought the opinion of three different doctors before everyone was satisfied with the diagnosis.

A tear obviously means Tommy John surgery is a possibility for Miller. But we’ve also seen pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees and Garrett Richards of the Los Angeles Angels go with plasma injections and rehab instead. So far, that approach has worked out for Tanaka, but Richards was recently placed on the 60-day DL with a biceps injury that could be an extension of his elbow issues.

All of the above will be taken into consideration before Miller and the Diamondbacks decide on the best course of action. And it should be, because the next few months will be the foundation for whatever the rest of his career becomes.

As for the Diamondbacks, they needed Miller to rebuild his foundation on the hill this season.  After shipping former No. 1 pick Dansby Swanson and others to Atlanta to acquire Miller, he performed poorly in 2016, posting a 6.15 ERA over 20 starts. That included a bizarre stretch where Miller’s mechanics became so out of whack that his knuckles scraped the ground on several pitches.

He was off to an encouraging start this season, lasting at least five innings and allowing no more than three runs in each of his first three starts. But that all came to a screeching halt on Sunday.

Now all the Diamondbacks can do is wait, while hoping Shelby Miller can come back and finally be the contributor they hoped he’d be.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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