Dodgers @ White Sox June 25, 2024: Bobby Miller looks to get back on track

The Dodgers (49-31) fielded one of their weakest lineups of the season last night in the series opener against the Chicago White Sox (21-59), yet still won by a score of 3-0. Teoscar Hernández was absent from the lineup, and Chicago had their ace Garrett Crochet on the mound, making this the most lopsided matchup these two teams could manage. James Paxton continued his smoke and mirrors season, going five innings allowing just three hits and three walks with six strikeouts. He did so on 91 pitches, never looking super sharp, and while he came away with no-decision he’s still sitting on a 7-1 record with a 3.39 ERA in 71.2 innings. Tonight features the right-handed Chris Flexen, up against Bobby Miller who is making his second start since returning from the Injured List.

5:10 P.M. Chicago
DH Ohtani (L) RF Pham
C Smith LF Benintendi (L)
1B Freeman (L) CF Robert Jr.
CF Pages DH Jimenez
RF Heyward (L) 1B Sheets (L)
SS Rojas SS DeJong
2B Lux (L) C Lee
LF Vargas 2B Lopez (L)
3B Biggio (L) 3B Sosa
P Miller (R) P Flexen (R)

The Dodgers will once again run out all their lefties against the right-handed Flexen. This includes Gavin Lux at second, Jason Heyward in right field, and Cavan Biggio at third base. There’s one main difference to this lineup, being Miguel Vargas getting the start in left field as Teoscar has the day off. Vargas has strictly been platooned, starting in left field against left-handed pitchers, and getting yanked in the seventh inning. It’s an awful way to utilize his talent, but with their current roster issues it makes sense for the time being. He’s slashing .333/.382/.567 in 34 plate appearances, good for a 164 wRC+ with an 8.8% walk rate and just a 14.7% strikeout rate. It sucks that he has essentially one day to capitalize on an opportunity against a right-handed starter, but it is what it is for now.

The White Sox have one of the worst offenses in baseball, no matter how you slice it. Against right-handed pitching, their 75 wRC+ is last while their 80 wRC+ against lefties is only fourth worst. It results in a 76 wRC+ and .621 OPS, the lowest in baseball.

Their best hitters against righties have been Paul DeJong with a 124 wRC+ and 30.8% strikeout rate, and Luis Robert Jr. with a 118 wRC+ and a 35.9% strikeout rate. Gavin Sheets has probably been the best as a whole, with a 117 wRC+ with a 12.6% walk rate and 16.9% strikeout rate. Every other player in this lineup ranges from below average like Eloy Jiménez (97 wRC+) and Tommy Pham (95 wRC+), to bad like Andrew Benintendi (70 wRC+), and Lenyn Sosa (23 wRC+).

Not to bash on these guys, I’m sure they’re trying their hardest but the White Sox offense is awful as a group.


Here’s how Flexen and Miller compare.

Miller has had a rough start to his season, as he’s coming off a great rookie campaign, and looked poised for a fantastic sophomore season after a dominant start in his season debut against the Cardinals. He had an outing in Chicago with a .600 BABIP against him, a mediocre outing against the Twins, and then missed nine weeks with shoulder inflammation. He made his return last week to mixed results, as he unfortunately had to make his first start back in Colorado.

Among 209 starters to log at least ten innings pitched, his home run to fly ball rate of 23.1% (three homers allowed in thirteen fly balls) is the ninth highest, just behind Walker Buehler at 23.3%. They’re both beyond double the league-average rate of 11.1%. Among all qualified starters, Framber Valdez of the Houston Astros holds the highest HR/FB rate at 16.7%. Long story short, Miller has given up too many homers. Good news is it’s simply been four outings, two of which he might’ve been injured for, and one at Coors Field. He’s a stud and he’ll look to get things going against a very weak White Sox offense.

Flexen hasn’t been great this year, but for a team that has 21 wins almost halfway through the season, he’s been reliable and takes the ball every fifth day. He allowed one run on five hits and three walks over six innings in his last outing against Houston, one of his best starts of the year. He throws five pitches, most prominently his low-90’s fastball and upper-80’s cutter. He throws a changeup (81.1 MPH) to both left and right-handed batters, as well as a curve that sits in the low 70’s. He works in a slider that sits around 80 MPH to right-handed batters to mix things up. It would appear that his best pitches this year have been his curveball and slider, the two pitches he throws the most infrequently. That could simply be due to batters sitting on a mediocre fastball and cutter and not really looking for breaking balls, but if those pitches are actually good it would seem to benefit him if he threw them more often.

FanGraphs Stuff+ has his slider at 146 (106 league-average), his curve at 82, and changeup at 124 (99 league-average). Stuff models aren’t everything and they do have issues sometimes, but this gives Flexen the fourth best slider among 96 pitchers with at least 70 innings pitched, and the fifth best changeup. It doesn’t like the curve at all, but having two pitches that rank so highly in a stuff model is noteworthy. Maybe there’s a good pitcher in there somewhere? He’s a free agent after the year and it might behoove him to get to a team with good pitching development. He had a 3.61 ERA in 2021 with Seattle, followed by 3.73 in 2022, so he might have a shot at putting it all together if he ends up in the right place.


Would be nice if it didn’t rain.


First pitch is at 5:10 p.m. PDT on SNLA.

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!