Texas Rangers: Shelby Miller set to make anticipated spring debut

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 25: Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks making his season debut throws his first pitch of the season in the first inning during the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 25, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 25: Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks making his season debut throws his first pitch of the season in the first inning during the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 25, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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The Texas Rangers will send Shelby Miller to the mound tomorrow to make his first spring start. Health and feel will be the greatest concerns.

It’s Shelby Miller’s turn to make his spring debut. He’ll do so at 2:05 PM CST tomorrow against the Chicago White Sox. Miller is one of the Tommy John projects the Texas Rangers took on this offseason. Thus, tomorrow’s start, however brief, will answer questions of health and ability.

Unlike Edinson Volquez and Drew Smyly, Miller has pitched in the big leagues since his surgery. His surgery took place in 2017 and he was able to return to the Diamondbacks mid-season in 2018. Unfortunately, elbow issues persisted and he threw just 16 innings over four starts for the D’Backs.

Without question, the last few years have been rough for Miller. So many setbacks and so much false hope. His health struggles can only be amplified by the fact that he was such a dominant pitcher only four years ago. A first half ERA of 2.38 in 2015 resulted in an All-Star nomination.

Texas Rangers
PHOENIX, AZ – APRIL 07: Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Chase Field on April 7, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

The Rangers signed the former All-Star on an inexpensive one-year, $2 million contract. You’ve likely heard the term “low-risk, high-reward” mentioned a few times over the last few months. The term explains a number of the organization’s offseason signings, including the Miller one.

Texas hopes the 28-year-old will regain his pre-2016 form. If he can, they will cash in on the high reward. They need any help they can get after posting the second highest team ERA in the American League a season ago. A healthy, 25-start year from Miller would be great even if his success is modest.

The upcoming regular season is a tremendous opportunity for Miller to prove his value in the 2019-2020 free agent market. If he can regain his great form, he’ll definitely open the doors for a few shoppers come offseason time. In that case, perhaps the Rangers would offer him a contract extension to keep him around.

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Only time will tell. Miller will have to get through tomorrow’s outing first. It’s all about baby steps at the moment. He’ll be treated with care to begin, but hopefully his health will enable him to spread his wings as the season goes along.