When rosters expand to 28 players beginning on Sept. 1, there are some obvious candidates the Los Angeles Dodgers need to call up from the minor leagues to fill the vacant spots, but perhaps there’s one more name they should take a leap of faith with.
No. 2 prospect Bobby Miller, despite only being at Double-A, deserves a promotion, even if it’s only for a brief cup of coffee. The right-hander has been heating up in the month of August and it appears his stuff will play in the big leagues.
Actually, Dodgers fans already knew that when he faced the LA Angels in an exhibition game shortly before the 2022 season began! Miller pitched three scoreless innings on his birthday at Dodger Stadium on April 5 and struck out two batters, including Shohei Ohtani with a 100 MPH fastball.
Though his overall numbers at Double-A Tulsa this season haven’t exactly been “great” (6-6, 4.45 ERA and 1.20 WHIP), he’s struck out 117 batters across 91 innings (20 games) and has put forth two career-best outings over the last seven days.
In other words, he’s building his case at the perfect time while the Dodgers have monumental decisions to make with a pitching staff that has been, more often than not, in flux this season despite overall positive results.
The Dodgers should consider giving Bobby Miller a September promotion
Funny enough, Miller’s worst start of his professional career came right before this recent run of form, so go figure! On Aug. 3, he lasted just 1.1 innings and was tagged for six runs (five earned) on five hits (two homers) and a walk. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that on Aug. 9 and Aug. 14, the right-hander combined for 13.1 innings of work, three earned runs, nine hits, two walks and 20 strikeouts as he continues to hone his control. His 11 strikeouts on Aug. 9 tied a career-high which was achieved the week prior in another dazzling outing, and his 7.1 innings on the 14th was a career high for innings pitched in a single start since getting drafted.
How do fans feel about his 100+ MPH gas coming out of the bullpen from time to time across the final month of the season? Maybe in spot starts as Clayton Kershaw/Walker Buehler get healthy and Andrew Heaney continues to deal with injury issues?
Ryan Pepiot is the obvious other candidate to remain on the roster (he’s here now as the injuries pile up), and then there’s Gavin Stone, who’s neck and neck with Miller. Otherwise, Landon Knack, Maddux Bruns and Nick Nastrini are very much not yet ready.
Stone, who’s made as good a case as any, doesn’t necessarily possess the overpowering stuff that Miller does to absorb high-leverage innings or brief multi-inning stints. His curveball and cutter/slider do most of the damage, whereas Miller boasts a triple-digit four-seamer and a 93-96 MPH two-seamer that moves considerably.
With so many pitchers on the mend and the Dodgers still currently trying to figure out who will be reliable down the stretch and into October, Miller’s timely outings this past week could have built him a case when the front office was initially perhaps more content with waiting at this juncture.