Dodgers' Bobby Miller optioned to triple-A Oklahoma City after another rough outing


The Dodgers starting rotation lost another pitcher on Wednesday.

This time, the subtraction was intentional.

A day after getting rocked for nine runs by the Philadelphia Phillies, in what was the latest clunker of a disappointing 2024 season, right-hander Bobby Miller was optioned to triple-A Oklahoma City, the Dodgers announced — an unexpected, but hardly unwarranted, demotion for the 2023 rookie star who had stumbled to a 1-2 record and 8.07 ERA in seven outings this year.

“No. 1, we got to get him right, that’s the impetus,” manager Dave Roberts said. “You have a path to either continue to go as we have been, and hope that it turns; or remove him from the situation, option him, and give him a reset to get out of this hotbox of performance. So we just felt this was the best thing for Bobby and for us. He’s a big part of what we’re trying to do this year.”

Indeed, Miller’s raw stuff makes him a vitally important piece of the Dodgers’ long-term pitching plans.

For a team that is currently without Tyler Glasnow, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and Dustin May because of injuries, and approaching a trade deadline market short of top-end starting pitching, Miller’s upper-90s mph fastball and (when well-executed) swing-and-miss secondary stuff makes him a unique talent on their roster.

He’s one of the club’s increasingly few pitchers with the kind of potential to excel in October.

Which is why, in a 2024 season that was already derailed by a two-month a shoulder injury, the Dodgers couldn’t risk his slump lasting any longer.

They want to send him to the minors, let him and the organization’s player development department try to iron out his delivery, then get him back at top-form in time for the season’s important stretch run.

“You can see it taking a toll on him,” Roberts said of Miller’s struggles. “When I take him out of a game, you can just see the weight and the stress that he’s putting on himself. So I do think that getting him out of this environment is gonna be beneficial. He’s gonna come back reset, recharged, and throwing the baseball the way we know he can.”

That, at least, is the optimistic view of the Dodgers’ decision on Wednesday.

Through another lens, the move served as the latest sign of the team’s suddenly dwindling rotation options — both in the short-term, with a rotation that is now down to just four arms, but also in the long-term, as starting pitching questions start to cloud the club’s October chances.

“The last thing I’m thinking about is a playoff rotation,” Roberts said. “We don’t even know who Sunday’s starter is. We have a lot of good options [for the playoffs] if they’re healthy and pitching well. But right now we’re just a long way from that point.”

The time frame for Miller’s eventual return to the majors is unclear.

This week, he will work directly with Dodgers minor league pitching director Rob Hill, trying to identify what in his delivery has caused his lack of command, dip of fastball velocity and overall inability to execute consistently.

After next week’s All-Star break, Miller will join the Dodgers’ triple A rotation in Oklahoma City, where Roberts said the club will be looking for him to “finish off hitters when he has count leverage; command the baseball, certainly the fastball; and get his changeup back to being a swing-and-miss pitch.”

“I think he was certainly taken aback, but he understood it, handled it like a professional.” Roberts said of Miller’s reaction to the news, which he was informed of Tuesday night. “He was determined to do whatever he could to get back to help us win up here, and be the pitcher that he knows he’s capable of being and has been before.”

In a best-case scenario, Miller can be called back as soon as July 25 (and possibly sooner, if someone else on the Dodgers’ pitching staff goes on the injured list in the meantime).

In the meantime, Roberts said its possible top pitching prospect River Ryan could be called up to join the team’s big-league rotation — one that already features three other rookies currently in Gavin Stone, Landon Knack and Justin Wrobleski.

“It isn’t easy [sending Miller down] because we need healthy starting pitchers,” Roberts said. “But it just shows how much we value Bobby.”

Still, for a pitcher who was supposed to be a “big piece of the puzzle” in the Dodgers’ pitching plans this year, as Roberts put it early in the season, and still figures to serve as one of their few legitimate options to start games in October, if he can rectify his form, Wednesday’s “news reflected the depths of the struggles Miller had endured — and the desperation with which the club is trying to get him right.

“If you’re going to do something this drastic or whatever, we’ve got to make sure we run this play out so we don’t have to do it again,” Roberts said. “That’s the other thing I told Bobby. It’s not about ERA. It’s not about April, May through July. It’s about the last part of the year and who’s throwing best. He’s certainly a viable option.”

But, in order to prove it, he’ll first have to rediscover his game back at the minor-league level again.



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