No pitcher has ever started a career quite like this

Miller improves to 3-0 with 0.78 ERA after dealing six scoreless innings

June 11th, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- was so impressive through his first three career starts that he hadn't needed to worry much about pitching his way out of big league jams.

Turns out, that's not much of an obstacle for the Dodgers' top pitching prospect.

Miller danced around some early trouble Saturday afternoon before settling in to continue his historically dominant run to begin his career. The 24-year-old right-hander tossed six scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 0.78 -- and to lead the Dodgers to a 9-0 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

In doing so, Miller became just the third pitcher in AL/NL history to go at least five innings and allow no more than one run in each of his first four career games within the same season. The last to do so was Kenta Maeda in 2016 (also with the Dodgers), while Cody Anderson also did so in 2015 with Cleveland.

“It’s definitely a little bit of a confidence builder,” Miller said. “That’s a really good lineup, so I really had to lock in and focus in on getting all my pitches today.”

After allowing only three baserunners in his six innings of one-hit ball against another really good lineup in the Yankees his last time out, Miller found himself in a bases-loaded jam in the second inning against the Phils. He escaped unscathed by getting Edmundo Sosa to ground out to second, but the inning was certainly a grind.

Miller threw 34 pitches in that frame and faced three batters with multiple runners on base -- something he had done only three times in his first three outings combined. Yet after needing 49 pitches to navigate the first two innings, Miller threw only 55 over the next four. He retired 11 of the final 13 batters he faced.

Through four starts, Miller is holding opposing hitters to just 1-for-13 (.077) with five strikeouts with runners in scoring position.

“As you start to get stressed a little bit -- do you have the ability to slow the game down?” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of what he looks for in a young pitcher. “[Throwing] harder is not always better, and I think with young players, they just want to throw harder to make the moment stop by overpowering guys. But Bobby has showed the ability to temper that a little bit.”

Overall, Miller worked around three hits and three walks while striking out seven over his six spotless innings. He improved to 3-0 with a 0.78 ERA, 23 strikeouts and only 12 hits allowed in 23 innings.

Miller is the only pitcher in AL/NL history to go 3-0 with a sub-1.00 ERA while compiling at least 23 strikeouts and allowing fewer than 15 hits in his first four games. Sure, that’s a bit of a mouthful, but put a simpler way: no pitcher has ever started his career quite like Miller.

And while there may not be a direct statistical comp, Miller does remind Roberts of a certain someone.

“What we've seen so far, it's a lot of what Walker [Buehler] did,” Roberts said. “That compete-ability to make a pitch when he needed to, and then you layer in the stuff, it's a lot like Walker.”

Miller’s “stuff” may be the biggest surprise so far.

It was no secret that he had a big-time fastball -- he maxed out at 100.4 mph on his four-seamer and averaged 98.5 mph with his sinker on Saturday -- but it’s the other pitches that have allowed Miller to thrive. Along with getting four whiffs and nine called strikes with his powerful sinker, Miller forced five swings and misses with his slider, four with his curveball and two with his changeup.

“His slider’s come a long way; he’s made a couple adjustments since he got here, and it’s been great,” catcher said. “Changeup is also a great wipeout pitch. And the curveball, that’s how you slow guys down. He’s put guys away with it, he can land it for strikes. He just mixes all four.”

Miller’s emergence has come at a perfect time for a Dodgers team that has only four healthy starters. But if he continues pitching like this, he may solidify a long-term home in that rotation, regardless of who is or isn’t available for Los Angeles.

“When you play for this club, we’re not about development -- we’ve got to win,” Roberts said. “It doesn’t matter the age, the service time -- if you’re going out there and performing, then you earn those opportunities.”