After an early 4-0 deficit last night, the Dodgers’ (30-19) offense made an impressive comeback, beating the Braves (29-18) by a score of 8-6. The win moved them to the first team in the NL to reach 30 wins, following only the Rays (35-14) and the Orioles (31-16). They’re currently on a 99 win pace, very solid for a team projected to finish second in their own division. Arizona (28-20) keeps winning, and I personally don’t expect them to be that good the entire season, but they clearly have potential and need to be treated seriously.
Bobby Miller, the Dodgers’ highest ranking pitching prospect since Walker Buehler, is making his MLB debut tonight up against the electric Spencer Strider.
|1B||Freeman (L)||1B||Olson (L)|
|RF||Heyward (L)||2B||Albies (S)|
|P||Miller (R)||P||Strider (R)|
The Dodgers will slide Mookie Betts to second base over Miguel Vargas, as David Peralta, Jason Heyward, and James Outman all start in the outfield. Both teams have a lot of offensive firepower, but as both starters tonight are right-handed, here’s how the two teams have fared against RHP this year.
Atlanta will run out almost an identical lineup as last night, with the only change being Sam Hilliard (.789 OPS) in center field over the struggling Michael Harris II. Ronald Acuna Jr. is the early MVP frontrunner with a .342/.430/.598 slash, good for a 1.028 OPS, and 176 wRC+. He’s also stolen 19 bases already and has a cannon in right field.
Against right-handed pitching, the Dodgers are led by J.D. Martinez (166 wRC+), Freddie Freeman (164), Max Muncy (160), Will Smith (158), and Betts (127), with Outman (126) and Heyward (122) right behind them. Looks pretty good on paper.
Strider is an established star and Miller has the makings of a potential future one, so this is the type of game you really tune into if you wanna see two starters with high level stuff. I’m not entirely sure if this game was initially planned to be televised nationally or if that was decided when the call up and matchup was announced, but it’ll be available to watch on TBS regardless.
Here’s a brief look at Strider’s season:
His biggest flaw this year has been that he walks batters at a league-average rate. Extremely acceptable for otherworldly numbers. He’s one of the most dominant pitchers in the game right now if he’s on his game.
He had his worst start of the year in his last outing, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks while striking out seven over five innings against the Rangers. The seven strikeouts were a season low, and this was also the first start in which Strider’s allowed multiple home runs this season.
The 24-year-old is now at a 2.96 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and has an absurd 86 strikeouts to just 18 walks across 51.2 innings. He’s now been limited to five frames in three of his last four outings. The 41.5% strikeout rate is insane. Four pitchers have higher strikeout rates this year and they’re all single inning relief pitchers. It’d be nearly an impossible rate to hold throughout the entire season, but if he were to finish the season with at least 162 innings, he’d post the highest strikeout rate of all time by a starting pitcher (by my research). Strider (86) has one less strikeout on the year than Julio Urias (53) and Dustin May (34) combined.
Bobby Miller is making his MLB debut tonight. He was drafted with the Dodgers first round pick in 2020 and has electric stuff. Miller has a 5.65 ERA, and 1.21 WHIP with twelve strikeouts to six walks across 14.1 innings at Triple-A after missing the first few weeks of the season with shoulder soreness, though he pitched well in his last start with just one run allowed and six strikeouts across six frames.
He has the potential to challenge Hunter Greene (99.2 MPH) for the hardest throwing starting pitcher in baseball. With the bullpen being taxed and the rotation dealing with injuries, Miller pitching to his potential would be a massive boost for the team. Gavin Stone and Michael Grove will also be needed, but Miller has the highest upside in the readily available system.
Realistically, there’s more written about him elsewhere than what I can cover in a Game Thread, so I’ll link a couple of those pieces in MLB.com by Jim Callis and Jeffrey Paternostro and Adam Lawler at Baseball Prospectus.
MLB Pipeline has him as the second best prospect in the Dodgers’ system, and 19th overall. FanGraphs also has him as the second best in the system and at 31st overall. Baseball Prospectus also has him second in the system and 27th overall.
Long story short, Miller has a very high ceiling. He has four plus pitches, throws extremely hard, sustains it late into games, and additionally has the build of a starting pitcher at 6’5. Making your debut against Atlanta isn’t ideal, but it has the makings for a big time debut if he’s able to perform well against them.
May going on the IL was always the most likely situation here. Missing two months really hurts the rotation, but for the future of May it is important to take the time off to get right.
Trayce Thompson is really getting into some rarified air for his hitless streak. With the injuries to May and Urías the team really can’t afford to have someone who brings nothing on offense getting any sort of meaningful plate appearances. The margins are smaller than usual this year and have grown even smaller with recent injuries.
This tweet is highlighting the Cubs, but if you look at the Dodgers offense, you’ll see that they’re near the top in balls outside of the zone being called strikes. Feels like 20% of those came in the series against St. Louis.
Maybe I’m unaware of the relationships between batters and catchers, but to me it seems ridiculous that catchers have to adjust their positioning because a guy like Marcell Ozuna can’t end his swing in a normal position. Every other hitter manages to not frequently hit catchers in the head.
First pitch is at 4:20 PM PT on SNLA and TBS.