Shelby Miller pushing for Opening Day roster spot with impressive camp

The 30-year-old right-hander has a 1.29 ERA in seven innings this spring with eight strikeouts and two walks.

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John Antonoff/Chicago Sun-Times

MESA, Ariz. — Pitcher Shelby Miller is having quite the spring for the Cubs and he might make the Opening Day roster. Miller, who is in camp as a non-roster invitee, is currently competing for a swingman role and quietly has had one of the best camps of any pitcher on the roster.

The 30-year-old right-hander has a 1.29 ERA in seven innings this spring with eight strikeouts and two walks. The Cubs believe Miller could fill various roles this season, whether it’s the swingman role or a multi-inning bullpen role. But the way he’s pitching, he could be making a late push for a spot in the Cubs’ rotation.

“It’s hard to predict that opportunity, but who knows?,” Miller said. “I’m just trying to control what I can control at this point this spring and that’s just taking care of what I can do. As long as we’re going out there and competing and getting guys out, who knows what the possibility is?”

Miller added a slider this spring to have as an out-pitch, and not only has it drawn rave reviews from the coaching staff, but it also has proven to be a weapon in games. With his fastball sitting around 95 mph during camp, it’s allowing him to give hitters different looks than before in his career.

“I think the more pitches we add that we can throw for strikes,” he said. “In the past I was always such a power pitcher with the fastball. Mixing that kind of pitch in, it gets them off the fastball, so I can take advantage of that. I can go up in the zone and run it in off of right-handers, so they’re not barreling it as much as they have in the past.

“I have another pitch that they have to look out for. I think that’s one of the advantages that I have right now in camp against opposing hitters is that they have to respect another pitch that they haven’t seen.”

He said it

“The first thing just as an outsider looking in as far as our expectations for the season and expectations for guys to perform, I was blown away at how much winning was expected and demanded. That’s not hyperbole, that’s something that I really felt as soon as I got into the clubhouse.” — Trevor Williams on being a Cub

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