clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bobby Miller dominant, Dodgers bullpen not in loss to Yankees

MLB: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Bobby Miller was dominant in six scoreless innings, but the Yankees scored runs off the Dodgers’ three best relievers to win 4-1 in Sunday night’s series finale at Dodger Stadium.

The first two Yankees runs were plated on softly-hit groundouts to a drawn-in infield, one off Brusdar Graterol in the seventh and another off Evan Phillips in the eighth after neither team scored in the first six innings.

In the ninth, Caleb Ferguson allowed a two-run home run to rookie Anthony Volpe to triple the Dodgers’ deficit.

Miller has been so good in his first three major league starts that removing him from a game already brings questions, even if the answers are fairly obvious.

The right-hander shut down the Yankees for six innings, allowing only a single and two walks. Both free passes came in a 27-pitch first inning, but Miller also struck out three in the frame and seven overall in his start. After 86 pitches, in a scoreless tie, Miller was removed in favor of Graterol to open the seventh inning.

“I felt like I could have gone longer, but that first inning, if you get rid of those two walks, I might be going into the seventh,” MIller said.

Miller threw more 95 pitches in five innings in his major league debut, and tossed 87 pitches in six innings in his second start. Sunday was also only his seventh start of the season, including Triple-A, after getting shut down during spring training with shoulder soreness. So it’s understandable if the Dodgers are being cautious with their top pitching prospect now that he’s actualized on a staff that’s battled injuries all season.

But because of how well Miller has pitched, it’s easy to see the allure of just letting him cook.

“This is certainly the biggest, most impressive game for him, and he just handled it so well,” manager Dave Roberts said. “For me, the long first inning, knowing he’s going to have a very short leash in the seventh, I just felt that the move was for him to end on a high note to feel great about himself and for Brusdar to start a clean inning.”

Miller was the eighth starting pitcher the Dodgers called upon this season, ninth if you count Ryan Pepiot making the opening day roster but landing on the injured list before pitching.

“Obviously, he’s very talented,” Roberts said. “He performed well in the minors, but you could argue not as much as his potential. Sometimes when you get here, the focus heightens or narrows even more. So far with Bobby, that’s what we’ve seen.”

Maybe the focus comes down to deciding which of Miller’s five pitches to use.

On Sunday, Miller counted on the two-seamer and slider for 68 of his 86 pitches. He got 11 swinging strikes on the slider alone, and finished off five of his strikeouts with that pitch.

“Keeping it tighter, getting rid of that big shape on the slider, and keeping closer to my fastball gets me more swings,” he said.

In his major league debut on May 23 in Atlanta, Miller threw his four-seam fastball, slider, and changeup all at least 23 times. Six days later against the Nationals he balanced his two-seamer with a mix of changeups, sliders, and curveballs.

The results for Miller are unquestionable. He’s allowed two runs on nine hits in 17 major league innings, with 16 strikeouts and four walks in his three starts, leaving no doubt he should remain in the rotation for the immediate future.

“He should be of the mind that every start is an audition, to stay hungry and go out there and compete, let things take care of themselves,” Roberts said. “Obviously he’ll make his next start, and just keep building that confidence.”

Miller’s next start will come next weekend in Philadelphia against the Phillies.

Graterol allowed a one-out single to Saturday’s Yankees hero Jake Bauers in the seventh, then on a perfectly executed bunt single by Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Graterol made his second ill-fated throw of the week, putting two runners in scoring position.

A broken-bat groundout to a drawn-in infield by Kyle Higashioka plated the first run of the game.

Domingo Germán matched zeroes with Miller and beyond into the seventh. Staked to a 1-0 lead, the Yankees right-hander got the first two outs of the frame and got ahead of J.D. Martinez 0-2, but then left a curveball over the plate. Martinez did not miss, hitting his ninth home run in his last 14 games to tie the score.

In the eighth, a seven-pitch walk to Anthony Rizzo with one out by Evan Phillips was followed by a ringing double to the wall in left center field. That set the table for Oswaldo Cabrera’s groundout to second baseman Miguel Vargas, who had no play at the plate and settled for the out at first base.

The two teams combined for only nine hits, four by the Dodgers.

Sunday particulars

Home runs: J.D. Martinez (14); Anthony Volpe (9)

WP — Clay Holmes (4-2): 1 IP, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

LP — Evan Phillips (1-1): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 walk

Sv — Wandy Peralta (4): 1⅓ IP, 1 walk

Up next

The Dodgers are off Monday before starting a three-game series against the Reds on Tuesday in Cincinnati (4:10 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA). Tony Gonsolin starts the opener for Los Angeles, against Reds right-hander Luke Weaver.