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Mariners’ Dipoto: What Bryce Miller has that makes him unique and special

May 5, 2023, 10:13 AM | Updated: 10:14 am

Seattle Mariners Bryce Miller...

The Mariners' Bryce Miller pitches against the Oakland Athletics on May 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

(AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Few MLB debuts go as well as Bryce Miller’s when the young right-hander struck out 10 and allowed just one run in his first start for the Seattle Mariners.

Breakdown: Bryce Miller throws most dominant SP debut in Seattle Mariners history

The young right-hander pitched in his first big league game in Oakland and was a big part of the Mariners coming away with a 2-1 win.

Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto, a former MLB pitcher himself, discussed what was so impressive about Miller’s first career outing and also gave some insight into his future.

“The most stunning thing for me with Bryce is just how calm was. He’s a very laid-back guy, he doesn’t allow the moment to get too big for him, and we believed that he was going to be able to go out there and execute pitches and repeat his stuff,” Dipoto said during this week’s Jerry Dipoto Show on Seattle Sports. “But you’re looking to see some level of nervousness, and you didn’t see it. I mean, he looked like he had been doing this for decades.”

Dipoto has regularly cited Miller’s stuff, especially his fastball, as “elite,” and that was the case on Tuesday in Oakland.

“To get him out there and get his career started and believe that he can continue to make an impact for the next 25 to 27 starts and help us get to where we want to go, because the one thing that is not questionable is how good our pitching has been,” he said. “For him to take up the mantle and do what he did night before last, it’s a special thing to watch for a young guy.”

Fann: Bryce Miller debut allows Seattle Mariners a temporary sigh of relief

As you may have noticed, Dipoto said “for the next 25 to 27 starts” when discussing Miller. Safe to say the plan is for him to stick in the Mariners’ rotation alongside Luis Castillo, Marco Gonzales, Logan Gilbert and George Kirby?

“He’s built out. He threw a full season of starts last year,” Dipoto said. “Bryce is also pretty resilient. His arm bounces back in a good way. We’re gonna see here.”

While Dipoto doesn’t see any concerns about Miller holding up physically, he did note that Miller hasn’t pitched on a five-day rotation before as a pro. When he takes the mound this Sunday against the Houston Astros in his first start in Seattle, that will be the first time Miller has pitched on four days of rest.

“So that’s gonna be the next challenge (for him). It’s the first time this year he’s doing that,” Dipoto said. “I think he’ll bounce back and our goal is that he becomes a part of what we’re doing in that 13-man (pitching) crew that’s really giving us a chance every night.”

Miller had a very special fastball on Tuesday, as it registered to-of-the-charts levels of spin. Miller also showed elite ability to ride the fastball as he threw 27 strikes with 10 or fewer inches of drop, second most of any pitcher in baseball in a single game this year.

 

“It’s that high-end, top-rail ride,” Dipoto said of Miller’s fastball.

And as you may have noticed in the above tweet, Miller only has one real contemporary when it comes to that type of fastball ride, which is Atlanta Braves star Spencer Strider, who finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2022.

Dipoto said that as Miller has developed since being drafted in 2021, Strider was often the go-to comparison for Miller in large part because of the fastball.

“It’s a special fastball. I think you’ve heard me say this when talking about and back in the spring or even in the offseason when I talked about players that could potentially impact our season: We felt like Bryce had the the best fastball in minor league baseball,” Dipoto said. “There’s going to be a few guys that throw harder – probably not a ton, but a few guys do throw harder – but the special traits that his fastball has when he’s at the top of the zone, his ability as you saw the night before last to go out there and locate it, especially getting back in counts. He’s not throwing middle-middle strikes when he’s 2-1. He’s going out and he’s locating a fastball.

“So when you have that kind of special quality to a fastball, it really gives you a great foundation, especially in a league that is breaking ball and softer stuff-oriented. When you get a pitcher out there throwing 70 to 75% fastballs like Bryce did, it’s just a different look, and I think that stands to be a separator for him.”

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