Dodgers’ hard-thowing Bobby Miller set for debut vs. Braves

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta’s Spencer Strider, the major league strikeout leader, will take on a pitcher making his major league debut on Tuesday night when the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers meet the Braves for the second game of a three-game set.

The Dodgers won the series opener 8-6 on Monday and became the first National League team to reach 30 wins.

Strider (4-1, 2.96 ERA) will be opposed by Bobby Miller, a flame-thrower who was a first-round draft pick in 2020, in a matchup of right-handers.

Miller, 24, is said to have the best stuff among the Dodgers’ minor league pitchers. He throws a fastball that can reach 100 mph as well as a slider, sinker, changeup and curveball. His problem has been consistency, and he began the season a month behind schedule after experiencing shoulder discomfort.

Miller was not immediately effective when he returned, allowing 12 runs (eight earned) in 8 1/3 innings during his first three minor league starts. He rebounded in his latest outing to throw six innings of one-run ball while striking out six. In four starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City, Miller was 1-1 with a 5.65 ERA.

“Skill-set-wise, there’s a lot of talent,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “There’s certainly maybe softer landing (spots for young pitchers than Atlanta), but it’s a good test. … It’s a great environment. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Clayton Kershaw was placed on the bereavement list amid the death of his mother to make room on the roster for Miller.

Strider, 24, has 86 strikeouts through nine outings. In his latest start, on Wednesday at Texas, he went five innings and allowed four runs on six hits and three walks with a season-low seven strikeouts.

Strider has made one career start against the Dodgers, and he received no decision after throwing six scoreless innings and striking out seven on June 26, 2022.

The Braves continue to be the major leagues’ most productive first-inning team. They scored four times in the opening frame on Monday, bringing their majors-leading total for opening innings to 41. Atlanta has scored at least one first-inning run in 21 games, including the past four.

Atlanta’s Marcell Ozuna, who had two hits in the opener, has hit safely in nine straight games to improve his batting average to .216. Ozuna nearly started an incident in the fourth inning when his wild swing hit Dodgers catcher Will Smith in the head. Words were exchanged and the bullpen gates swung open, but cooler heads prevailed.

The Braves must find an answer for Freddie Freeman, a former Atlanta star who homered, doubled and singled on Monday. Freeman has a 12-game hitting streak.

It was the 71st career homer for Freeman at Truist Park, the highest total for any player, but his first there since joining the Dodgers. It was Freeman’s 301st career homer, moving him into a tie with Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby for No. 153 on the all-time list.

Los Angeles’ J.D. Martinez matched his career best with four hits and has hit safely in seven straight games.

Atlanta is looking for Michael Harris II to get started at the plate. The 2022 NL Rookie of the Year went 0-for-4 on Monday and is 0-for-22 in his past six games. His average has fallen to .163.

“It’s not for the lack of effort,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s coming in and watching film and doing drills. He’s just going through a rough spot, and he’s got to fight through it.”

–Field Level Media

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