The Los Angeles Dodgers' playoff rotation appears to have taken a powerful hit as the legal situation surrounding Julio Urías plays out. The team's lost a bit of its luster, too, after the Atlanta Braves stormed into Hollywood and took three of four in a "prove it" series for both sides.
But Dodgers analyst Dontrelle Willis found a pretty important silver lining in the team's lone win over Atlanta that could go a long way toward patching up both deficiencies.
LA's series-salvaging victory was a Bobby Miller masterpiece; the rookie right-hander tamed baseball's best offense (an historically good, 1927 Yankees-esque unit), surrendering just three hits and striking out five in seven one-run innings. After a speed bump in the middle, Miller has rebounded nicely in his past seven starts, posting a 3.15 ERA and razor-thin 1.08 WHIP. Moving the sophomore slump to the middle of his rookie season and overcoming it before the end of August represents Miller playing chess, not checkers.
With dozens of postseason innings (hopefully) on the horizon this year and very few reliable arms to fill them, Dave Roberts has his work cut out for him. Luckily, Miller seems ready to absorb those innings in chunks of six or seven at a time, as Willis made sure to point out following the Louisville product's latest heater.
Dontrelle Willis reminds Dodgers to give Bobby Miller postseason responsibilities
At this point, not starting Miller in the postseason isn't an option. The only question remaining is whether he starts Game 2 of the Dodgers' first series behind Clayton Kershaw.
When in doubt, it's probably a good idea to point to the guy who mystified the rolling Braves, leaving manager Brian Snitker with nothing but high praise for the gunslinging kid.
"That's kind of effortless 99 to 100 [mph] and he's got good secondary stuff. That's a good-looking young pitcher right there. He's a strong kid and I love his delivery."- Brian Snitker on Bobby Miller
Hopefully, the fastball remains "effortless" under October's bright lights, and Miller's able to take the ball and pitch like a No. 1 (while Roberts scrambles to figure out who should be Nos. 3 and 4).
Kershaw has descended from the Game 1 role in recent years, but seems likely to regain it in 2023 (despite ducking the Braves this past week). Walker Buehler's available in fits and spurts, but won't be a "traditional" starter again until next season. Urías cannot be counted on. Tony Gonsolin is gone. Lance Lynn has too many L's in his name (and recent game log) for our taste.
That leaves Miller to provide not just flashes, but heaps. If this team has a chance to advance past a Braves rematch, he'll need to make better adjustments than the opposing offense and carry the torch.