Bobby Miller's Dodgers disaster vs. Phillies got him demoted to minor leagues

The bleak gets bleaker (and more confusing).
Los Angeles Dodgers v Philadelphia Phillies
Los Angeles Dodgers v Philadelphia Phillies / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Things went very, very badly for the Dodgers during their first game in Philly on Tuesday night, and Bobby Miller was mostly to blame. Miller has ranged from mildly bad to completely awful in his four starts since coming back from the IL in mid-June. In his last four outings, he's given up 24 hits and 19 runs, all earned, and has only struck out nine batters.

His most recent start in Philly was, by far, the worst of them all. He pitched four innings and gave up 10 hits and nine runs, including a solo homer to Bryson Stott and a grand slam to former Dodger Trea Turner. After the game, both Miller and Dave Roberts said that, despite the Dodgers seemingly rushing him through his rehab assignment (which also went poorly), he is, in fact, healthy, and the problem is instead with his mechanics and execution.

The Athletic's Eno Sarris was baffled by Miller's struggles, noting that the righty's fastball velocity is down about a tick and a half from last season, but it's still averaging 97.5 MPH, and he's got five pitches to chose from. So what gives?

What's going on with Dodgers' Bobby Miller after worst blowup of his career against Phillies?

Regardless of the root cause, the Dodgers pivoted Wednesday afternoon, deciding that the right-hander's abbreviated rehab wasn't quite long enough.

Four starts after activating Miller to the MLB roster, the Dodgers have demoted him to Oklahoma City and recalled reliever Ricky Vanasco for depth. Hopefully, Miller understands the gravity of this situation and absorbs the ego blow with the right attitude.

Miller's changeup, which he's come to rely on more heavily this season, is still working well for him. He uses it about 18% of the time and it has a .111 batting average against. However, all four of his other pitches have been getting absolutely hammered. The fastball has a .270 batting average against, curveball .455, slider .400, and sinker — which he's using a lot less of this season, and for good reason — a whopping .625.

The heat map on his fastball does say a lot, though, the same way Yoshinobu Yamamoto's did when he was struggling through his first few starts of the season. Miller is still managing to get his heater out of the dead center of the zone more than Yamamoto did, but it's not painting and doesn't seem to be operating at peak velocity.

Sarris also expressed that some hope for Miller still remains, which might be hard for Dodgers fans to hear after Tuesday, but not too long ago (May 29) he shut out the Cardinals over six innings and only allowed two hits and a walk. Things took a downward turn after that, so it's still a complete mystery what's happened to him over the course of this season alone, but this is also only his second year in the majors, and Yamamoto has shown that even the most imperceptible of mechanical tweaks can change a lot.

Still, the Dodgers' pitching staff has been forced to its knees too much recently, as more and more pitchers get added to the IL. LA desperately needs Miller to regain form at Triple-A and supplement whatever starting pitching help will inevitably be on the way at the deadline.

Either that, or they need him to admit he's still hurting so they can patch up another expanding hole.