What to expect from Bobby Miller

May 23rd, 2023

Not many rotations could afford to lose Dustin May (right forearm) and Julio Urías (left hamstring) at the same time. While that will be a blow to the Dodgers, they at least have the luxury of replacing them with a pair of Top 100 Prospects.

Right-hander Gavin Stone replaced May and made his second big league start Monday against the Braves. Filling in for Urías, righty will make his big league debut on Tuesday, manager Dave Roberts confirmed.

Ranked 19th on the Top 100, Miller will become the fourth Top 100 Prospect and the highest-ranked member of the group to play for the Dodgers this season, following Miguel Vargas (since graduated), Michael Busch (No. 42) and Stone (No. 44). James Outman, the club's leading contender for National League Rookie of the Year, didn't crack the list before starring this season.

After shuttling between the rotation and bullpen in his first two college seasons at Louisville, Miller got only four starts in 2020 before the pandemic abruptly ended his junior year. Because he had some effort in his delivery and lacked a track record of consistently throwing strikes, some clubs felt he offered too much reliever risk to select in the first round. The Dodgers disagreed, taking him with the final choice in the round (29th overall) and signing him for $2,197,500.

Three years later, Miller definitely looks like a starter and may have the best four-pitch repertoire on the Top 100 list.

Miller's signature pitch is his four-seam fastball, which sits around 97-99 mph for several innings at a time and routinely climbs into triple-digit territory -- such as when he struck out Shohei Ohtani in an exhibition in April 2022 and when he fanned the side at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game three months later at Dodger Stadium. In his last start on Wednesday, he averaged 99.5 mph with 43 heaters, throwing 19 at 100 mph and three at 101 while permitting just one run and whiffing six in as many innings.

Besides pure velocity, Miller also has impressive armside run on his fastball that produces a lot of weak contact -- when hitters make contact. He also can throw a two-seamer with sink that also parks in the upper 90s and reaches 101 mph.

All three of Miller's secondary pitches are weapons as well, beginning with an upper-80s slider that reaches 92 mph, features two-plane depth and is a plus-plus offering at its best. His upper-80s changeup both fades and sinks, giving him a third well-above-average pitch at times. His low-80s curveball ranks fourth in his arsenal but still earns solid grades.

Though Miller has improved his delivery and strike-throwing since turning pro, he hasn't dominated as much as might be expected given the quality of his stuff. He has posted a 227/56 K/BB ratio in 183 pro innings while limiting opponents to a .212 average, but he also owns a 3.79 ERA. His pitch sequencing can get too predictable, especially if he's having trouble landing his secondary pitches in the zone, and his fastball can get hit harder than it should.

That has been the case in Miller's four Triple-A starts this year, during which he has compiled a 5.65 ERA while throwing non-fastballs for strikes just 47 percent of the time. To be fair, his Spring Training was disrupted by a mild bout with right shoulder soreness. That setback meant he needed more time to build up his arm strength and caused him to miss the first month of the Pacific Coast League season.

The Dodgers have the second-best record in the NL at 29-19 and their 11th consecutive postseason berth looks like a lock, so there's less pressure on Miller to come in and make an immediate impact. He certainly has the stuff to do so and to eventually become a frontline starter. It remains to be seen how Los Angeles will continue his development once May and Urías return.