Ryan Howard’s last 20 PA: 0 hits, 11 strikeouts

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This tweet says it all:

For about two weeks in the middle of June, it looked like Ryan Howard had figured it out. Between June 12-22, he raised his OPS an even 100 points from .728 to .828, but it is back down to .778 after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his return to the Phillies’ lineup in this afternoon’s loss. He had enjoyed a two-day reprieve to “release his mind“.

Howard now has the fourth-highest strikeout rate in the National League at 30.4 percent. With a mediocre 7.4 percent walk rate, he has the 11th-worst walk-to-strikeout ratio in the league at 0.24, per FanGraphs. He has been completely ineffective against left-handed pitching, which makes you wonder when GM Ruben Amaro will swallow his pride and demote his $125 million first baseman to one half of a first base platoon.

Diamondbacks place Shelby Miller on the 10-day disabled list

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The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that starter Shelby Miller has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation. Miller will get a second opinion on his elbow on Tuesday, per MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. Pitcher Silvino Bracho has been called up from Triple-A Reno to take Miller’s spot on the roster.

Miller, 26, left Sunday’s start with what was described at the time as forearm tightness. Through his first four starts, Miller is carrying a 4.09 ERA with a 20/12 K/BB ratio in 22 innings.

Bracho, 24, has pitched quite well in 6 2/3 innings of relief at Reno. He’s given up just one unearned run on four hits and a walk (intentional) with 12 strikeouts.

Archie Bradley figures to take Miller’s spot in the starting rotation as Bracho will work middle relief.

Eric Thames hit two more homers

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And John Lackey is livid.

The Brewers’ first baseman homered in each of his first two plate appearances against Reds starter Amir Garrett on Monday evening, helping his team to a 6-1 lead after two frames. The first was a solo blast in the first inning, and the second was a two-run shot to the opposite field in the second inning.

According to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, Thames has tied the Brewers’ record for home runs in April with 10. Carlos Lee also hit 10 homers in April 2006.

Seven of Thames’ 10 home runs have come against the Reds. Including his first two at-bats on Monday night, Thames is hitting .379/.474/.924 with 17 RBI along with the 10 dingers. Not too shabby from a guy the Brewers signed to a three-year, $16 million contract during the offseason.

Lackey and Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio both recently implied Thames is using performance-enhancing drugs, but Thames was tested immediately after last Monday’s game against the Cubs.