Happy Bobby Miller day, everyone! The Dodgers’ top pitching prospect — number 21 on the MLB Pipeline — is making the first big league start of his career today in Atlanta and the hype surrounding the moment is getting palpable. He’s a former first round draft pick, coming to LA as the 29th overall selection just shy of three years ago and already shot his way through the minor league ranks.
As Bobby Miller is primed to make his MLB debut, the comparisons to his style and other great players are sure to follow. One name we’ve seen most often as a comp is two-time All-Star Walker Buehler. While they come from different backgrounds both are notorious for never being short on confidence in their ability.
Buehler is on the sidelines these days making his way back from Tommy John surgery last season. With that, he has some time on his hands these days and is spending part of it as a regular guest on the “Just Baseball Show” podcast. In a recent episode, Buehler talked about Bobby Miller and where he’s at in his career.
“I think in terms of the body and the delivery it’s drastically different — he’s a huge human and big, strong… and I just wasn’t that way, especially when I was younger. But I think from the hand to the plate it’s pretty similar. He probably has more ability to work the inside of the ball than I did in terms of changeup and the two-seamer. … He’s throwing a Dustin May-ish two-seamer and a pretty good four-seamer. Mine was more of an optical mix thing, his is more of a legitimate two-seamer/four-seamer.”
“I would say I had a touch more command, but I don’t know. I mean, when I first came up in September of ’17 I walked like 8 guys per 9, so it’s hard for me to really stand on that. I think maybe I was a little more polished but I think he probably has a little bit more ability than I had and definitely has more of that traditional workhorse starter frame.”
The general knock on Miller is the command but his walks per 9 in the minor leagues is actually better than Buehler’s was coming up. As Walker mentioned, it took him some time to figure it out at the big league level, struggling to a 7.71 ERA in his first taste of the show late in 2017. It wasn’t until May 2018 that he started establishing himself as a future front-end ace.
Buehler also shared some advice from his rookie year for Miller. Just sort of be yourself on the mound and don’t let them change you.
“It’s kind of hard for him because he cruises at 98-100 (mph). So if anything goes wrong, he walks a guy, everyone’s gonna tell him to calm down and I remember this distinctly because you’re throwing so hard that everyone thinks you’re trying too hard or you’re gassed up. I remember my rookie year, for me, throwing harder felt more efficient and like I could actually throw better. And so, for him, I hope he just sticks with doing what’s comfortable for him and filling it up at 100. And I think he’ll do pretty well.”
It’ll be a heck of a match up this afternoon in Atlanta. Miller is debuting against budding Atlanta ace Spencer Strider who has been electric since moving into the Braves’ starting rotation full time. The Dodgers could use a gem from Bobby but it’s certainly not expected. He just needs to keep his team in the ballgame for a few innings.