Despite a 29-19 record after the Dodgers’ first 48 games, Los Angeles is need of reinforcements for its rotation. The Dodgers are to set just that, as the team will reportedly recall right-handed pitcher Bobby Miller to make his MLB debut this week. So, what can Dodgers fan expect from the former first-round pick? Let’s take a look at Miller.
A Look at Miller
Former University of Louisville star Bobby Miller was a part of a dominant Cardinals rotation in the abbreviated 2020 NCAA season that produced two eventual first-round picks: himself and now-Angels SP Reid Detmers. Miller was selected in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft after a solid, yet complicated college career. The right-hander struck out 175 over 170 career innings in Louisville and posted a career ERA of 3.28, but did struggle with command at times.
Still, the Dodgers felt that his stuff would play up in pro baseball — and it has thus far. The 24-year-old rolled through the Midwest League in 2021, before hitting a speed bump with Tulsa (AA) later that season. Miller struck out 117 batters over 91 innings with the Drillers last year, numbers that were enough to push him up to AAA. While he did fine overall in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League late last season, Miller owned a 8.16 ERA after his first four starts of 2023.
That ERA doesn’t tell the whole story of his season, which started late thanks to shoulder problems he dealt with this past spring. In his last outing, Miller struck out six over six and gave up just one run for the baby Dodgers. A strikeout machine in the Minors, the 24-year-old can inundate opposing hitters with a triple digit fastball that hit as high as 101.2 MPH in his last outing (per Statcast). It’s a plus pitch that’s one of the best fastballs in the Minors, and it complements both his changeup and slider. Miller’s primary secondary offering, though, is actually a curveball that sits in the low-80s — much lower than the speed on his fastball.
Miller has confidence using all four offerings with regularity, but the key to whether he’ll be a successful starter will be the command. The former Louisville product’s walk rates have flutctuted throughout his career, something that will need to be monitored in the early goings of his MLB career.
Per Reuters, multiple outlets have reported that Miller will make his Major League debut on May 23 against fellow 2020 MLB Draft pick Spencer Strider and the Braves. Oddly enough, this won’t be the first time that both Strider and Miller will share the same mound. The two righties both pitched in relief duty in an ACC contest between Clemson and Louisville on March 25. Strider struck out four over two innings that day, while Miller threw 1.1 IP of scoreless ball for the Cardinals in a 5-1 game that ultimately went Louisville’s way.
A Look at the Dodgers Rotation and Fantasy Outlook
Miller will look to fill a hole in what has become an injury-riddled and question-filled rotation in Los Angeles. Julio Urias and Dustin May both hit the IL in recent days, hence the need to call up both Miller and Stone. Ryan Pepiot, meanwhile, got hurt in Spring Training and doesn’t look to be an option for Los Angeles until the summer. Couple those injuries with a tough 2023 for Noah Syndergaard, who owns a 5.88 ERA after nine starts and one could see why the Dodgers opted to call up the 24-year-old.
Miller’s stuff should be able to get outs at the MLB level. But with fringe-average command, it’s unclear at this point how the whole package will profile in the Majors. For both the Dodgers and its fanbase, it’s now time to get a clearer picture to just that.
As far as Miller’s fantasy outlook is concerned, the 24-year-old possesses plenty of value thanks to his ability to strike out hitters with his various weapons. And given the number of issues in the rotation, Miller has the opportunity to stick if he can cement himself as an effective power pitcher in his first few starts. It would be a good idea to snare him should a roster spot become available, but his first start isn’t exactly a soft one.