'Bulldog' Miller making a quick name for himself

Dodgers' top pitching prospect spins quality start in Dodger Stadium debut vs. Nats

May 30th, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- As manager Dave Roberts sat at the center of the media huddle prior to the series opener against the Nationals at Dodger Stadium on Monday, the nine-year skipper pondered his club's recent road trip.

The starting pitching faltered and the offense couldn’t overcome the deficits, lessening the space in the standings between the first-place Dodgers and the hot-hitting D-backs. Roberts summed up the biggest undertaking Los Angeles had to put the losing road trip behind them: a need for more good, quality starts.

The Dodgers would go on to beat the Nationals, 6-1, behind right-hander 's six innings of one-run ball in his Dodger Stadium debut. In his second career start, the 24-year-old (and top Dodgers pitching prospect, per MLB Pipeline) recorded his first quality start as he kept Washington off balance with his sinker, which he threw 27 times out of 87 pitches (31%). Miller finished the night with four strikeouts and one walk.

When asked about his composure in front of the home crowd following the game, Miller kept it simple in describing his sentiment on the mound: “I'm really not scared of them out there.”

Starting the homestand on a good note was needed in more ways than one for the team. The first four innings of the game favored the Nationals after Joey Meneses scored on a single from C.J. Abrams in the third, but Miller adjusted to Washington’s approach at the plate and silenced them from that point forward.

“We were ready for the fastball,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He threw a lot more breaking balls, threw some pretty good breaking balls, threw some changeups. The stuff was good.”'

On the offensive side of things, it only took a fortuitous fifth inning for the Dodgers to give Miller more than enough support.

extended his hitting streak to 18 games when he doubled in a pair of runs, two of six the Dodgers would plate in the frame. The six-run inning sealed the victory, as  slugged his 11th homer of the season (extending his own hitting streak to 13 games), after rookie James Outman continued to shine by driving in the first run for Los Angeles with a sacrifice fly.

Washington recorded only four hits against Miller’s five-pitch arsenal, which factored into the Dodgers' decision to name him the starter on Sunday night against the visiting Yankees.

"He's going to make his next start on Sunday,” Roberts said. “We're excited about that. [He’ll] just continue to gain experience. We're coming in and starting the season slow. You've got to be mindful of building a foundation. As the summer goes on, we can turn loose. Bobby's done fantastic.”

Miller impressed throughout his six innings against the Nationals. By harnessing the adrenaline and stress that was undoubtedly coursing through him, Miller’s quality start rested arms in the bullpen that had been overexerted in the recent road trip. With the Dodgers' offense lighting a spark in the fifth inning, it sealed a winning outcome in the home debut for the rookie.

"It's a dream come true, honestly,” Miller said. “It's a very aggressive lineup. I knew the team was going to have my back. The guys have been swinging the bat very well, so it's very special."

The Dodgers were expecting this quality of game at some point in the season: One that required the team to grind it out, more than it usually does. The team felt the effects of the recently completed three-city, 10-game road trip as the players walked into the clubhouse ahead of Monday's series opener, but turned things around as Miller locked in and pounded the strike zone against the Nationals.

"When he's on the mound, he's a bulldog out there, you can tell,” Freddie Freeman said. “He has a plan with what he's doing out there, and he's executing it.”