Cardinals @ Dodgers March 29, 2024: It’s Miller Time (on Apple TV+)

The Dodgers (2-1) won their home opener yesterday against the Cardinals (0-1) by a score of 7-1. It was a quick and easy game, with Tyler Glasnow and Ryan Yarbrough making light work of the St. Louis offense, while the top of the Dodgers lineup did their thing. Bobby Miller will get the ball in the second game of this four game series up against the left-handed Zack Thompson.

7:10 P.M. Los Angeles
LF Donovan (L) 2B Betts
1B Goldschmidt DH Ohtani (L)
2B Gorman (L) 1B Freeman (L)
3B Arenado C Smith
C Contreras 3B Muncy (L)
DH Burelson (L) RF Hernández, T.
RF Walker CF Hernández, K. (L)
CF Scott II (L) LF Taylor
SS Winn SS Rojas
P Musgrove (R) P Yamamoto (R)

The Cardinals will send out the exact same lineup as yesterday. Glasnow and Yarbrough were excellent, with St. Louis managing just five total baserunners on three hits from Paul Goldschmidt, a Willson Contreras walk, and Victor Scott II reaching on an error. There’s some real upside in a few of these St. Louis batters, but Miller isn’t exactly an exciting matchup after facing Glasnow.

The Dodgers will face a left-handed starter tonight for the first time this season in Thompson, resulting in quite a few changes to the starting lineup. Teoscar Hernández will shift from left to right field. Enrique Hernández will start in center field over James Outman, while Chris Taylor starts in left field. Gavin Lux will sit with Mookie Betts sliding over to second base, with Miguel Rojas filling in at shortstop.


It feels as if the Dodgers always struggle against left-handed pitching and last year felt like no exception, although it wasn’t really the case. While the offense was better against right-handed pitching (trailing just the Atlanta Braves), the offense still operated at a very high level against southpaws.

In terms of personnel change, the team lost J.D. Martinez and his 143 wRC+ and .924 OPS against left-handed pitching, while adding Shohei Ohtani (.898 OPS, 138 wRC+) and Teoscar Hernandez (.817 OPS, 120 wRC+).

Outman wasn’t great against left-handed pitching last year, with a .665 OPS and 93 wRC+, not unplayable but definitely not great. Additionally, Lux hasn’t shown a ton against lefties in his young career with a .586 OPS in 234 career plate appearances. Both Outman and Lux are young and likely will be given opportunities throughout the year to see if they can show improvement against left-handed pitching. Taylor had a .795 OPS and 112 wRC+ against lefties last year, while Miguel Rojas was an average hitter against LHP, with a .286/.331/.406 slash with just twelve strikeouts in 145 plate appearances. Enrique Hernández wasn’t good last year, but he has a history of being utilized well against left-handed pitching over the course of his career.


Here’s how Miller and Thompson matchup going into their first starts of 2024.

Miller had a decent spring, posting a 2.77 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and nine strikeouts to three walks in 13 innings and finishing with four shutout innings against the Angels this past weekend. He has a true five pitch mix, featuring a strong curveball in the low 80’s, a slider and changeup that both come in just under 90 miles an hour, all tied together by the fastest average four-seam fastball (99.0 MPH) and sinker (98.8) thrown by any starting pitcher in 2023. Despite the stuff, his 23.6% strikeout rate was just barely above the league average of 22.7%, while his walk rate of 6.3% was below the league average rate of 8.7%. He’s always had strikeout rates north of 30% throughout the minor leagues, so I’d expect to see him take a step forward in that aspect this season. His floor is probably similar to his 2023 season, and his ceiling is infinitely higher.

Thompson is a 26 year-old lefty, looking to put together a strong performance in the absence of Sonny Gray. Gray isn’t expected to miss much time and Thompson is likely to be fighting for the fifth rotation spot in the meantime. I’m also not entirely sure why the Cardinals have their number five starter pitching in the second game of the season. He made just nine starts last year over 25 total appearances, although his last eight outings of the year were all as a starting pitcher. His performance remained steady as a starter, maintaining similar results to what he did out of the bullpen. Overall, he pitched will this spring, with a 2.81 ERA and 14 strikeouts to six walks over 16 innings. He sits near the mid 90’s with his four-seamer that he throws over half the time (53.6%), pairing it with a mid 80’s slider and mid 70’s curveball. Seven of his eight home runs allowed last year came against right-handed batters, allowing a .642 OPS against left-handed batters compared to an .800 OPS to RHB.


This would put Walker Buehler just around a month away from his possible return.


Drew Pomeranz is a 35 year-old oft-injured lefty reliever that has experienced real success in the bigs, so I expect somehow the Dodgers will find a way make him effective and contribute this year.


First pitch is at 7:10 PM PT on Apple TV+.

About Allan Yamashige

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Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!