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Analyzing Sunday night foe Bobby Miller’s early success in the bigs

Bryce was first; now, Bobby Miller is the exciting rookie starter standing in the Yankees' way.

Washington Nationals v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

For the second time this week, the Yankees will go up to bat against an exciting rookie pitcher named Miller. Wrapping up the series in Dodger Stadium, Aaron Judge and company will face the young right-hander Bobby Miller in his third start in the majors.

On Monday, we wrote a little here about the success of Seattle Mariners starter Bryce Miller, and how it revolved around one of the better four-seam fastballs in the big leagues.

The Dodgers’ Miller also bolsters a high-velocity heater, sitting in the high 90s, capable of touching 100 routinely, but without the same extension and spin efficiency that Bryce has. Bobby Miller has relied more on a complete arsenal to accomplish back-to-back quality starts, in both occasions earning the win in the beginning of his big league career.

Despite what looks like electric stuff to the naked eye, Miller hasn’t generated a ton of swing-and-miss action, with a 9.9 SwSt% across his first 12 innings. However, opponents have struggled to square him up, and with good command, Miller has been able to pitch to outstanding results in this short sample size.

In fact, the keyword here is command. Miller isn’t blowing past bats, but the young arm has shown tremendous ability to locate each of his pitches very accurately in these two starts. Let’s take a look at the heatmap for each of his offerings. First the two fastballs, both the four-seamer, and sinker.

Miller will pound the top of the zone with the four-seamer, and as far as his sinker he’ll pound the inside corner to right-handers, and the outer third to lefties.

Now let’s look at his secondary pitches.

Once again, the plan here is very clear. Miller throws his changeup more to lefties, locating it pretty well down and away. The slider comes in more often against right-handers, also as a chase pitch, down and away. A byproduct of the above-average command Miller has displayed, and a solid foundation for his future success, is the lack of free passes, as the young righty has walked only a pair across those 12 frames, good for a 4.8 BB%.

All the general caveats made about further judgment on a sample size that only takes into account two games are in order. Plus, the fact that a lack of swing-and-miss action in his entire arsenal leaves the margin for error smaller. However, there are multiple paths to success, and as long as he can sustain this pristine command while also being able to pitch deep into games, having gone six full frames in both starts, Miller could fill out a big need for a Dodgers staff that much like the Yankees has been riddled with injuries.

It’s also interesting to note how unpredictable the transition can be for young starters, hoping to settle into a role in the rotation. The Dodgers gave the first crack to a different prospect, Gavin Stone, to lock down a role in an undermanned staff before calling on Miller. Stone features a changeup which in a vacuum rated better than any single offering from Miller, however, Stone struggled heavily in each of his starts and got sent back down to the minors. Now even as the Dodgers rotation gets healthier, Miller seems more or less locked in for a starting spot, barring outstanding circumstances.