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Shelby Miller brings unique fastball, slider to the bullpen

Miller exclusively throws fastballs and sliders, and that may be all he needs to be successful.

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Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Dodgers may have another pitching success story when it comes to Shelby Miller. The team is known for rehabilitating pitchers, and with Miller, they’ve got plenty of solid raw material to mold.

His four-seam fastball has once again reached the peak velocity we saw in 2017, with movement nearly 20 percent above league average, according to Esteban Rivera at FanGraphs. Miller also tends to release the ball as close to the plate as possible, lowering his vertical release point and contributing to a 26.1-percent whiff rate on his fastball. With optics like that, batters can easily swing and miss at down-the-middle pitches that otherwise looked perfect.

The reliever’s slider, which debuted in 2021 and quickly became a signature pitch, is also unique. Miller throws his slider hard and in the low 80s, and it’s been effective enough that he can rely on it slightly more often—55 percent of the time, to be exact—than his fastball.

Miller, who reportedly took a one-year, $1.5 million major-league contract (plus performance bonuses), could make a huge impact on a changing bullpen. The Dodgers have made quick work of filling holes in their pitching, says Michael Ajeto at Baseball Prospectus. They acquired Evan Phillips off of waivers in 2021 and snagged Alex Vesia before that season, then got as much as possible out of Chris Martin, Daniel Hudson, and Craig Kimbrel. But, as Ajeto points out, Kimbrel and Martin are on their way out of Los Angeles, and Shelby Miller could be just the ticket to help replace them.

Dodgers Links

The Toronto Blue Jays have hired former Dodgers and Miami Marlins skipper Don Mattingly as their new bench coach, writes Matt Snyder at CBS Sports.

Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic shares some interesting info about the Dodgers’ offseason plans, including potentially signing Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Kolten Wong.’s Juan Toribio speculates on the Dodgers’ shortstop situation if Trea Turner doesn’t return, among other roster questions.