05 August 2016

Ariel Miranda Wasn't Going to Help the Orioles

Joe Reisel's Archives

Many Orioles fans were disappointed when the only deadline-day acquisition the Orioles made to improve their pitching staff was Wade Miley, a well-traveled pitcher often described as a durable innings-eater. Despite Dylan Bundy's recent outstanding performances, it's still believed that the Orioles needed another pitcher good enough to start a post-season game, and Miley really isn't that. Acquiring Miley is reminiscent of the Scott Feldman acquisition of 2013, for whom (and Steve Clevenger) the Orioles traded Jake Arrieta (and Pedro Strop). To get Miley, the Orioles traded Ariel Miranda, a left-handed starting pitcher and a Cuban émigré who signed with the Orioles in May 2015.

Before the 2016 season, Baseball America rated Miranda as the 23rd-best prospect in the Orioles' organization. He pitched 70 innings in 14 2015 starts, mostly with Advanced-A Frederick and AA Bowie. After some early-season fiddling with their minor-league rosters, the Orioles assigned Miranda to AAA Norfolk on April 11 and he's been in the Tides' rotation ever since.

How good a prospect is Ariel Miranda, really? How likely is it that the Orioles will regret trading him the way they might be regretting trading Josh Hader, Zach Davies, or Arrieta? Or is he more like Xavier Avery, L.J. Hoes, or Nick Delmonico, other prospects the Orioles traded for veterans? I scored, either as the BAM datacaster or for Baseball Info Solutions, five of Miranda's starts and may have some insights.

First, it's important to remember that Miranda, at age 27, is only two years and two months younger than Miley. That doesn't mean that Miranda can't be a good pitcher or that he's not a prospect, but it does mean that he's probably physically mature.

What struck me most about Miranda was his delivery. He has a twisty, whip-like delivery with a higher leg kick than most pitchers; he reminded me of Dontrelle Willis. I can't prove it, but I believe that pitchers with high leg kicks are more affected by age; as they age, they're less able to maintain their balance during their delivery.

Here are Miranda's pitching lines for the five games I've scored:

Date
Opp.
BFP
IP
H
R
ER
BB
K
Dec.
4/11
CHA
22
4.2
6
1
1
2
6
ND
4/23
DUR
17
4.1
2
0
0
2
6
ND
6/18
DUR
23
7
1
0
0
1
9
ND
7/8
SYR
28
6.2
5
2
2
2
1
ND
7/23
TOL
26
5.2
8
3
3
2
6
W

It's clear that I've seen Miranda at his best. In these five games, his ERA is 1.91; overall, his Norfolk ERA was 3.93. His strikeout-to-walk ratio in these games was 3.11; overall, 2.81. His strikeouts-per-nine-inning ratio in these games was 8.89; overall, 7.78. While on the surface his performance in these games may suggest that he can be a good pitcher, the details reveal something that suggest that he wouldn't be effective in Camden Yards.

The below table shows the total number of ground balls, fly balls, line drives, walks and strikeouts Miranda induced. The batted-ball totals include hits, errors, and outs, and so are more complete than the data in the official statistics. Also, there is a discrepancy between these results and the above lines because of hit batsmen.

Ground Balls
28
Fly Balls
35
Line Drives
13
Walks
9
Strikeouts
28

Even pitching well, Miranda has fly-ball tendencies. That works well in Norfolk's Harbor Park, which has a large center-field area and is at a low altitude, but won't work well in Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Because of this, I don't think Miranda would have been effective pitching at Camden Yards, and consequently would not have been effective as an Oriole. Because of that, and because of Miranda's relatively advanced age, I don't think the Orioles will regret trading him.

5 comments:

Roger said...

I agree on Miranda but don't tell Palmer about your opinion of high leg kicks.

Roger said...

Also, I know that the Arrieta/Strop trade is always going to be the bellweather of O's bad trades but neither pitcher was worthy of keeping at the time and both were terrible. The only real question is whether they were screwed up by the O's or they screwed themselves up. If it was by the O's then they were never going to be anything and the O's did themselves and the pitchers a favor by letting go. If they did it to themselves then someone would have needed a crystal ball to know. I'd have rather gotten something better than Feldman but the trade was reasonable at the time. And so is the Miranda trade. They put Miley up against the team he fares the worst against in his first start. There will be better starts.

the muse said...

And the altitude at OP@CY is that much higher than Norfolk? Ummmm....
I listened to the game and wasn't that impressed but... give him time. Even Urbaldo threw a pretty nice game last time he was out there, only to be sabotaged by the bullpen. It' going to be an interesting fall.
tim in san jose

Pip said...

Was this written before or after Miranda's debut with Seattle? Did you have any opinions about that performance?
I want to stress that I have no current qualms about the trade, although Miley is a 7 million dollar gamble and he seems to have a lot in common with Gallardo, the 22 million dollar gamble.
The question was asked,"why not just let Miranda start for us?"
I'm curious why that was never tried? Miranda got two innings with the big club and that was it.
Does Dan LIKE spending pots of money on hopefully-average pitchers?

Joe Reisel said...

#Pip - I wrote my piece with no knowledge of Miranda's debut with Seattle. It doesn't change my opinion - Seattle is a more pitcher-friendly park the OPCY; Miranda got more outs on fly balls than grounders.