After gem, Miller positioned for vital postseason role

September 27th, 2023

DENVER -- A few months ago, there was genuine concern whether the Dodgers would have enough pitching depth to get through a 162-game season, much less a deep October run. 

Because of all those injuries to the starting staff and some inconsistencies from others, the Dodgers called on a handful of rookie starters to step in and help keep the team on track to win a tenth National League West title in 11 seasons

Seemingly all of those young arms stepped up in a big way, but none bigger than , who has become one of the top starters in the Dodgers’ rotation. Every time the Dodgers needed to see growth from Miller, he did just that. 

That all continued on Tuesday as Miller led the way once again, allowing just two runs and setting a new career high with nine punchouts over seven innings in the Dodgers’ 11-2 win in Game 2 of a doubleheader at Coors Field. 

  • Games remaining (5): at COL (2), at SF (3)
  • Standings update: The Dodgers (97-60), who clinched the NL West title on Sept. 16, clinched a bye in the NL Wild Card round on Saturday. They trail the Braves (101-56) by four games for the No. 1 seed in the NL. The Braves hold the tiebreaker, as they went 4-3 against the Dodgers in the season series.

Miller was making his first start at hitter-friendly Coors Field, but that didn’t seem to faze the young right-hander. He used his entire pitch mix and leaned heavily on his triple-digit four-seam fastball and wipeout slider. Miller got nine whiffs on the heater and four on the slider en route to 16 total swings and misses.

Miller became just the third Dodgers pitcher to record nine strikeouts and zero walks against the Rockies at Coors Field, joining Pedro Astacio and Clayton Kershaw. 

Over the next week, the Dodgers will begin to finalize their pitching plans for the postseason. They’ve admitted that they won’t be trotting out a traditional rotation. They’ll also be creative with how they use their bullpen, as evidenced by the use of Caleb Ferguson as an opener ahead of Ryan Pepiot in Game 1 of the doubleheader.

But when the Dodgers sit down to discuss how to proceed, there won’t be any doubt that Miller will play a big role in their plans. In fact, it’s almost a guarantee that Kershaw and Miller will start Games 1 and 2. The order of that will be dependent on health and availability for a potential Game 5 and the opponent. 

It’s a responsibility Miller has had to earn over the last few months. While he potentially has one start left in the regular season, the right-hander has been at his best in September. He has allowed three or fewer runs in four of his five outings this month. The strikeout numbers have also increased, with Miller punching out seven or more in four consecutive starts. 

As a top prospect, Miller always envisioned being a big part of the Dodgers’ postseason plans. Maybe neither side expected it to happen this early in his career. But that’s where the Dodgers are, and they feel confident their young hurler can handle those responsibilities.