September 20, 2023

Bobby Miller continues to give Dodgers hope amid rotational issues

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 29: Bobby Miller #70 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws against the Washington Nationals.
Dodgers pitcher Bobby Miller scores on Monday night during a 6-1 win over the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium. Miller gave up one run in six innings and is 2-0 in two big league starts. (Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

The Dodgers returned from a grueling 10-game trip with their rotation in tatters, the injuries of Dustin May and Julio Urías, and the struggles of Noah Syndergaard, Clayton Kershaw and Gavin Stone that emphasized organizational pitch depth and an overworked bullpen.

In rookie right-hander Bobby Miller, the Dodgers found some relief…and a cause for hope.

The stout 6-foot-5, 220-pounder with a three-digit fastball and knee-kink curve was dominant in his second big league start Monday night, holding the Washington Nationals to one run and four hits in six efficient innings of a 6-1 victory in front of a Memorial Day crowd of 47,067 at Dodger Stadium.

A 2020 first-round pick from Louisville, Miller struckout four, walked one and needed just 87 pitches—54 of which were strikeouts—to complete six innings against a Nationals lineup who entered Monday with a batting average of .285 in the major league and a second-best .344 on-base percentage.

Four of Miller’s 12 pitches in the first inning were clocked at 100 mph. He averaged 98.3 mph on the 27 sinkers he threw, 97.7 mph on his 18 four-seam fastballs, and one of his best throws of the night was his last, a 79 mph turn that knocked out cleaning man Joey Meneses as he swung for sixth.

“When Bobby gets on top of that mound, he’s a bulldog, a force to be reckoned with,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman, who broke a tie with a two-run double in a six-run fifth inning. “You can see he’s self-controlled, he knows what he’s doing. He’s got a great game plan and he’s clearly got the arm.”

Miller (2-0), who held the Atlanta Braves to one run and four hits in five innings of an 8-1 win in his big league debut last Tuesday, also seems to have the composure to go with his stuff, which isn’t the case. always the case.

“I’ve gotten a lot better [at harnessing my emotions]Miller said. “A few years ago, I don’t think I was very good at it. That was probably my biggest problem, and it wouldn’t get me very far in my career if I kept behaving like this. So I just tried to stay calm, focus on my breathing, and everything will be fine.

The Nationals picked up Miller for a run in the second inning on Meneses’ single, Corey Dickerson’s one-out double and CJ Abrams’ two-out RBI single, but Dodgers right fielder Jason Heyward prevented Washington from taking a 2-0 lead with a perfect shot . one-hop throw to the plate to spike Dickerson to end the inning.

“Yeah, that was great,” Miller said. “Great game.”

Dodgers starting pitcher Bobby Miller warms up in the bullpen.

Dodgers starting pitcher Bobby Miller warms up in the bullpen before pitching against the Nationals on Monday. (Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

A Dodgers offense averaging 6.2 runs per game on the trip exploded for six unearned runs in the fifth to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 6-1 lead, with the two best hitters in the season team, Freeman and JD Martinez, threw the big punches. .

Heyward’s first walk and Abrams’ fielding error on Miguel Vargas’ potential double play grounder up the middle led to runners on first and third base. James Outman, who ended an 0-for-20 skid with a single in the third inning, threw a sacrifice fly to left field for a 1-1 tie.

Chris Taylor hurried down the line to force out a fielder’s choice grounder that kept the inning alive. Mookie Betts lined a single to left, and Freeman ripped a two-run double to right to extend his hitting streak to 18 games and give the Dodgers a 3–1 lead.

Will Smith walked and Martinez, who struckout Washington right-hander Trevor Williams (2-3) in his first two at bats, hit a 90 mph fastball on the outside half over the right-centerfield wall for a three run homer and a 6-1 lead.

Martinez hits .309 (21 for 68) with seven home runs, four doubles and 21 RBIs in 16 games since returning from a back injury, increasing his batting average from .250 with an .840 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in the late April to an average of .276 and .910 OPS through Monday night.

Freeman hits .431 (31 for 72) with four home runs, 12 doubles and 20 RBIs on his hitting streak, raising his average from .286 with an .822 OPS on May 9 to .333 with a .980 OPS through Monday night . His double was his 17th in May, setting a franchise record for doubles in a month.

His streak was not caused by plate adjustments. The veteran is so consistent in his approach and with his swing mechanic that manager Dave Roberts said he couldn’t even tell Freeman was in tears.

“If he’s struggling or not getting hits, that’s the same for me,” said Roberts. “The quality of the at bat, the quality of the contact, is quite comparable. You say he has a hot streak, so I think he has a hot streak, but he just looks like Freddie. … He never deviates [in his approach]. It is remarkable. It’s fascinating.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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