The Dodgers returned from a grueling 10-game road trip with their rotation in tatters, injuries to Dustin May and Julio Urías and the struggles of Noah Syndergaard, Clayton Kershaw and Gavin Stone underscoring organizational throwing depth and an overworked bullpen.
In rookie right-hander Bobby Miller, the Dodgers found some relief…and reason for hope.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound strapping with a triple-digit fastball and knee-buckling curve was dominant in his second big league start on Monday night, holding the Washington Nationals to one point and four hits. sure in six effective innings of a 6-1 win in front of a Memorial Day crowd of 47,067 at Dodger Stadium.
Miller, a 2020 Louisville first-round pick, struck out four, walked one and needed just 87 pitches — including 54 strikes — to complete six innings against a Nationals roster that entered Monday with a major league-leading .285 batting average. and a second-best on-base percentage of .344.
Four of Miller’s 12 first-inning pitches were clocked at 100 mph. He averaged 98.3 mph on the 27 pellets he threw, 97.7 mph on his 18 four-seam fastballs, and one of his best pitches of the night was his last, a curve of 79 mph that hit cleaner Joey Meneses swinging to end the sixth.
“When Bobby gets to the top of that mound, he’s a bulldog, a force to be reckoned with,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman, who broke a tie with a two-run brace in a fifth. six-point inning. “You can tell he’s in control, he knows what he’s doing. He has a great game plan and obviously he has the arm.
Miller (2-0), who held the Atlanta Braves to one run and four hits in five innings of an 8-1 victory in his big league debut last Tuesday, also appears to have the blood- necessary cold to match his business, which was not always the case.
“I have improved a lot [at harnessing my emotions]”, Miller said. “A few years ago, I don’t think I was that good. That was probably my biggest problem, and it wasn’t going to let me go far in my career if I I kept acting like that. So I was just trying to stay calm there, focus on my breathing, and I’ll be fine.
The Nationals notched Miller for a run in the second inning on Meneses’ single, Corey Dickerson’s one-out double and CJ Abrams’ two-out RBI single, but Dodgers right fielder Jason Heyward kept Washington from taking a 2-0 lead with a perfect jump shot at home plate to nail Dickerson late in the inning.
“Yeah, that was awesome,” Miller said. “Big game.”
A Dodgers offense that averaged 6.2 points per game on the trip exploded for six unearned runs in the fifth to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 6-1 lead, with the two most batters Team hotties, Freeman and JD Martinez, providing the big hits.
Heyward’s first step and Abrams’ field error on Miguel Vargas’ potential double-play pitch in the middle put the runners up first and third. James Outman, who ended an 0-for-20 skid with a third-inning single, threw a sacrificial fly to left field for a 1-1 tie.
Chris Taylor rushed down the line to beat a prime ground defender who kept the inning alive. Mookie Betts fielded a left single and Freeman ripped a two-run double to right field to extend his hitting streak to 18 games and give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.
Will Smith walked and Martinez, who hit on his first two shots against Washington right-hander Trevor Williams (2-3), threw an 88 mph fastball on the outside half over the right center field wall for a three-run homer and a 6-1 lead.
Martinez is .309 batting (21 for 68) with seven homers, four doubles and 21 RBI in 16 games since returning from a back injury, upping his .250 batting average with .840 on-base percentage plus slugging at the end of April at an average of 0.276 and 0.910 OPS until Monday evening.
Freeman is batting .431 (31 for 72) with four homers, 12 doubles and 20 RBIs during his hitting streak, increasing his average from .286 with a .822 OPS on May 9 to .333 with a . 980 OPS until Monday evening. His double was his 17th in May, setting a franchise record for doubles in a month.
His streak was not triggered by any adjustments at home plate. The veteran is so consistent in his approach and with his swing mechanics that manager Dave Roberts said he couldn’t even tell Freeman was on a tear.
“When he’s struggling or he’s not getting hits, it’s the same for me,” Roberts said. “The batting quality, the contact quality, is pretty similar. You say he’s on a good streak, so I guess he’s on a good streak, but he just looks like Freddie. …He never deviates [in his approach]. It’s amazing. It’s fascinating.”
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.