The Los Angeles Dodgers' playoff rotation may be in sudden shambles, but they just might be able to piece things together if a few of their rookies catch fire at the right time.
Why is it possible that this particular Dodgers team could still surge past the Braves and Phillies, despite massive rotation losses and the lingering presence of Lance Lynn as a key cog? The lineup, man. The lineup remains insane.
And so, while Bobby Miller has earned plenty of rightful praise for the job he's done establishing his 99 MPH heater at the big-league level, when it came to year-end, team-by-team rookie awards from The Athletic, James Outman was the only choice in Los Angeles.
After all the work he's done to lengthen this star-studded lineup and fit in perfectly, how could he not nab the honors?
Bobby Miller might get Dodgers playoff start in Year 1, but James Outman deserves rookie crown
Miller has been worthy of the pedestal since being elevated to the bigs, and has shaken off some mid-year scuffles to post a 3.98 ERA/3.70 FIP in 101.2 innings (with only 92 Ks, surprising given the potency of his heater). He's probably the second-most trusted Dodgers starter, at this juncture, depending on the health of Clayton Kershaw's left shoulder.
But being the second-most trusted starter on this team is a lot like being the second-best customer service operative at a cable company. Odds are you're still pretty difficult to deal with.
Miller's 1.4 bWAR has been predictably doubled by Outman, who plays every day and plays well. Outman, too, has persevered after being saddled with ridiculously high expectations. Last year down the stretch, he was the "Why Isn't This Guy Playing?!" guy, followed by a turn as the "Wait, Seriously, *Why* Didn't We Play This Guy?" guy after the team went out meekly in the postseason and maybe could've used his small-sample-size .462 average.
LA used Outman as a significant portion of the justification not to extend an expensive deal to Cody Bellinger after he let them down tremendously in 2021 and 2022, and while Belli has rebounded and is "having fun again," Outman's 2.9 bWAR, 113 OPS+, 19 bombs and .790 OPS has been a vast improvement on the production the Dodgers received from the position last year.
Miller may be indispensable by default, but Outman has made his case more emphatically. Luckily, the Dodgers are the real winners here for possessing both players, who can each make a solid case for year-end honors.