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Shelby Miller will miss 3-4 weeks with neck pain, another blow to Dodgers bullpen

Los Angeles Dodgers v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Dodgers placed Shelby Miller on the injured list on Wednesday with neck pain, which is expected to sideline him for at least 3-4 weeks, eliminating another option in a Dodgers bullpen looking for quality innings in bulk.

Miller’s neck pain came up last week when he was activated off the bereavement list. He wasn’t able to pitch in his first game back, but threw two scoreless innings last Thursday against the White Sox.

Dave Roberts told reporters on Wednesday in Anaheim that Miller’s neck pain stems from an older injury.

“It’s going to take him out for quite some time, for weeks,” Roberts said, per SportsNet LA. “I’m amazed how he could still perform with that. ... It will certainly be three to four weeks before we see him again, at the floor.”

Miller won’t throw for two weeks before getting reevaluated.

The Dodgers bullpen had an excellent showing in Anaheim. Seven relievers combined for a shutout in a bullpen game on Wednesday night. Caleb Ferguson and Evan Phillips finished off the win, just as they did on Tuesday, only that time following a stellar start by Clayton Kershaw.

But even with the scoreless two-game set against the Angels, Dodgers relievers own a 4.88 ERA that ranks 29th in MLB.

The problem for the Dodgers has been two-pronged — craving consistency in relief beyond Phillips, Ferguson, and Brusdar Graterol, and needing quality starting pitching from a staff that has seen six starters land on the injured list this season to help lessen the burden on the bullpen.

Daniel Hudson rehab games

Date Team Outing Days rest
Date Team Outing Days rest
Jun 6 ACL 1 IP, 1 K ---
Jun 10 ACL 1 IP, H, BB, K 3
Jun 13 ACL 1 IP, 3 K 2
Jun 15 ACL 1 IP, H, K 1
Jun 17 ACL 1 IP, H, 2 K 1
Jun 20 OKC 1 IP, H, K 2
Jun 21 OKC 1 IP, 1 K 0

Help is likely on the way soon, with Julio Urías likely making a rehab start this weekend with Low-A Rancho Cucamonga, followed by a possible activation next week in Kansas City. Reliever Daniel Hudson pitched scoreless innings on both Tuesday and Wednesday for Triple-A Oklahoma City, and he’s up to seven scoreless innings on his minor league rehab assignment, so could potentially return either this weekend or next week.

Ryan Brasier is one of a few fliers the Dodgers took on veterans, and he got four outs against the Angels on Wednesday night. The 35-year-old is the 29th pitcher used by the Dodgers this season, just two shy of their total used in all of 2022.

Losing Miller hurts, as he was pitching his way into a larger role. He has a 2.40 ERA in his 25 games with 31 strikeouts in 30 innings, though he’s also walked 18 with a 4.17 xERA. The walks have lessened of late, and Miller was used in higher-leverage situations, thanks in part to his holding right-handers to just 6-for-52 (.115/.220/.212) on the season.

Miller was third in the bullpen with 30 innings pitched, and his 11 appearances pitching in multiple innings led the Dodgers. Now they’ll have to search elsewhere for length out of the bullpen.