Once Miller took to the mound for the first time as a big leaguer, the fiery personality that everyone loved was on full display. The talented right-hander made sure to leave the first impression after five one-running innings in the Dodgers’ 8-1 win over the Braves on Tuesday night.
“He feels good. I was really excited to go there,” Miller said. “I mean, it’s great training. You have to stay confident out there. a lot of guys to lay in. As hard as that first inning was – they put a few barrels on me – you have to stay in the moment, stay where my feet are, keep executing throws, stay in the zone.
Miller, the No. 19 ranked prospect in baseball and the top pitching prospect in a talented Dodgers organization, had more than 20 friends and family in attendance for an evening he will never forget. It’s what he dreamed of as soon as the Dodgers made him their first-round selection in the 2020 draft in Louisville.
Miller, however, admitted he was “very nervous” despite trotting the mound with confidence. Part of it had to do with the natural emotions of pitching in your first major league game. Other factors included the showdown with Spencer Strider, an early favorite to win the National League’s Cy Young Award, and a stacked Braves roster.
Maybe Miller never saw it happen that way. Maybe the nerves were at an all time high. But the stage didn’t seem to faze the young right-hander, as he struck out five of his five innings.
“He was really impressive,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I think he showed a lot of composure tonight. Did a great job of managing his emotions, the adrenaline. He showed just enough attitude…and a bit of nervousness , and just competed. For him, passing five was a big boost.
The scouting report on Miller early in his career is that he’ll fire up the radar gun with a powerful four-seam fastball. That was indeed the case, as Miller hit 100.1 mph on the first pitch of his career against Ronald Acuña Jr., forcing a groundout at third base. In fact, nine of Miller’s first 19 pitches were four seams, nearly all coming in at 100 mph or more.
But the Braves offense was waiting for Miller’s four-seam and managed to score a run in the first on a Sean Murphy single and an Austin Riley double, both against the warmer. Impressively enough, though, that’s when Miller’s maturity and competitiveness showed.
Miller turned to his other three pitches — slider, change, curveball — to settle in well. He worked through traffic in the third and fourth but was able to throw shots when he needed to limit the Braves to just one point. Miller got five of his 10 swings and misses slider and curveball.
“The (fastball) is what stood out, but he also had a good sense of his secondary shots,” said Braves first baseman Matt Olson, who struck out twice against Miller. “You see a guy come in with an overwhelming fastball, you don’t know if he’s just going to be a guy up there just throwing hard. But he wasn’t.”
Miller’s promotion to the Majors probably came a few weeks or months before anyone expected it. Even Miller admitted he was surprised to get the call. The right-hander has been sidelined all spring with a right shoulder injury. He only made four starts with Triple-A Oklahoma City and was hit hard in two of them.
The Dodgers have been waiting for Miller and Stone to debut for a few seasons now. Those are two big reasons the Dodgers didn’t think they needed to make splash signings in the offseason in the rotation. The time has come for them to prove them right. That’s exactly what they did the last two nights in Atlanta.
“I’m grateful they called my name,” Miller said. “They could have called many other names. I am very honored that they called on me.