If Bobby Miller’s stuff looked a little different in his most recent start that’s because it was. The rookie Dodger pitcher introduced a retooled slider and leaned on it heavily in his 6 dominant innings over the Yankees. The once slower offering with a bigger break was scrapped for a harder version that touched 94mph. Miller broke down the improved offering after his outing.
“Throwing it harder, making it a little bit tighter — getting rid of that big shape on the slider. I think throwing it harder and keeping it closer to my fastball gives me more swings. It felt really good. Been working on my slider a lot lately.”
Miller told reporters he worked on the pitch with pitching coaches Mark Prior and Connor McGuiness and that he had mentioned the change to them first. The slider overall has been a weapon for the right-hander since making the leap to the major leagues. He has a 42.9% whiff rate on the pitch and batters are hitting just .125 against it. The lean toward his offspeed stuff has been a conscious decision for Bobby and the Dodgers with the idea of keeping hitters honest with the electric fastball.
“I expect every team to be looking for my fastball,” Miller said, “they know I’ve got a good fastball so I’ve got to have my other pitches working as well”
In his first three big league starts, the 24-year-old has adapted and adjusted well in games. After his first start he said he leaned on catcher Will Smith and didn’t shake him off one. Since then, it seems like it’s been more of the same.
The next big test will come for Miller when things might not be going as well in a game. How will he react to adversity? For now, he’ll remain in the rotation and continue proving he belongs.
“Man, he’s really impressed,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said on Sunday. “I can’t say enough about what Bobby’s done for us. I think he is of the mind that every start is an audition and continue to stay hungry and go out there and compete and let things take care of themselves.”
With a 1.06 ERA over his first 17 innings, things are indeed taking care of themselves.