13 September 2016

Wade Miley Is Not Giving The Orioles What They Need

The Orioles hoped they were, at the very least, getting an unremarkable but adequate starting pitcher when they acquired Wade Miley from the Mariners at the non-waiver trade deadline. They parted with fellow southpaw Ariel Miranda to get the deal done, which certainly wasn't a high price but was something.

The hope was that Miley, as the team's lone left-handed starter, would be serviceable. Passable, average, sufficient, all right, not bad, decent, fine, OK -- any of those would have sufficed. Instead, it would be difficult for the trade to look any worse right now. After eight starts in an O's uniform, Miley's numbers are amazingly bad. He's thrown about 35 innings, and he has an ERA of 8.41. That's not what the Orioles want; that's not what any team wants.

Of course, Miley isn't this bad. Few pitchers are. Besides the home run numbers (1.5 HR/9 with a HR/FB rate of 20%), Miley's peripherals suggest he's been unfortunate. His strikeouts and walk rates are fine, and he has a 4.81 FIP and an xFIP (which assumes a league average home run rate) of 3.99. And like Ubaldo Jimenez early in the season, BABIP has not been Miley's friend. With the Orioles, Miley has a BABIP of .409. His career mark is .307.

Regardless, you probably don't care what Miley's numbers should look like when the O's are clinging to that second wild card slot. And it's hardly unreasonable to expect better than what they've received from Miley.

Miley's stretch seems particularly terrible, even when comparing his performance against some of the underwhelming pitchers the Orioles have employed the last decade or two. So I went to the Baseball-Reference Play Index to investigate. I wondered which pitchers had so many consecutive terrible outings in a row to start their Orioles' career. The Orioles have had a lot of bad pitchers, and Miley is doing his best to join them.

I searched for consecutive pitching outings in O's history with the following criteria: at least one inning pitched, at least two earned runs allowed, and at least seven baserunners allowed (for starters only). And Miley is quickly working his way up the list. Miley has amassed eight such outings in a row (Baseball-Reference hasn't updated yet this morning), tied for seventh in this group with some names you've heard before (Garrett Olson, Pat Rapp, Wayne Garland) and a couple that maybe you haven't (Bill Trotter, Joe Giard). The leaders of this group are Jason Johnson and Julio Bonetti, at 16 straight games. Carl Fischer had 10 such outings, followed by Jose Mesa, Erv Palica, and Don Larsen (all with nine).

That set of criteria, it's worth noting, doesn't necessarily lead to all negative results. Giving up two runs in five or six innings while limiting the damage is not ideal, but it's not terrible, either. You probably need some luck and/or a good defense behind you. And Miley has not been lucky (and if you watched the beginning of last night's game against the Red Sox, the O's defense did him no favors).

Considering Miley's BABIP and high home run rate, you'd figure some positive results are on the horizon. It's hard for any pitcher to sustain an ERA over 8 over this many starts. But at this point, there isn't really a whole lot the Orioles can do. Because of the wear and tear on Chris Tillman, the high workload of Dylan Bundy, and the uncertainty of Yovani Gallardo and Jimenez, the O's best course of action may be to proceed with their flawed collection of six starters.

Fortunately for the O's, after the season, Miley... oh, right. He's under contract next year for about $9 million. That's more than a fair price for an average starting pitcher, so perhaps that figure won't look so bad in a couple months. It would be tough, though, for it to look much worse.


Roger said...

The defense last night sure was ..... inadequate at best. There had to be some issue with it being after a travel day. I didn't think that Pearce was that bad an outfielder. I was thinking "why isn't Bourn in LF and Pearce in RF". That might have changed the complexion of the game but the truth is the O's only scored 2 runs anyway. WE can't expect to win every game but that game stunk all around.

Roger said...

I could've sworn the Sox were TRYING to hit it to LF.

Jon Shepherd said...

I would argue that when you play in Boston, you need a technically correct outfielder in left field and a rangey one in right field. Positioning and reading are what is important as opposed to making up ground underneath the Green Monster. So, I think Bourn in right and Pearce in left made more sense than the other way around.

Pip said...

Ariel Miranda has actually done very well since the trade. None of the fly-outs he gave up would have been home runs in Camden, so he's not getting a boost from the park(though Leonys Martin is certainly helping) but a comparision of stats shows that Miley is actually the marginally better pitcher...according to stats.
Whether Miley is worth 7 million this season(at under 1 WAR, he's definitely not) one wonders why the Orioles didn't give Miranda a try before trading him.
1) was this another unjustifiable trade for "an experienced veteran" or was there some legit logic behind it?
2) any idea what, if anything, Miranda changed once he got to Seattle? He's certainly been successful.

Jon Shepherd said...

Pip. I am unsure what you are referencing. Miranda's peripherals look awful in Seattle. My bet is that he has gotten somewhat fortunate with batted balls. He should be seeing more singles and doubles.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who's noticing a pattern?

* Jimenez: 4.85 ERA / 1.49 WHIP with the Orioles
* Gallardo: 5.44 ERA / 1.60 WHIP
* Miley: 8.41 ERA / 1.87 WHIP

I think that's 3 strikes for Duquette. The top priority for the 2016 off-season should be finding a new GM.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Duquette isn't going anywhere, but you're certainly entitled to your opinion. I think he's been a fine GM -- not great, not bad, but decent.

Jon Shepherd said...

Makes sense. The GM who has the greatest five year MLB record since the early 70s needs to go.

Matt P said...

Miranda has had two "good" starts lately. But one of those was because someone gave up an error and the three runs he allowed were unearned.

I've brought up the Jimenez, Gallardo, Miley unholy trio before. I don't think Duquette should be fired, but the Os are certainly doing a poor job in the free agent pitching market. It's hard to be successful there, but they'd probably be better off with the two picks they gave up than with those three.

Pip said...

Jon, I admitted that Miley's stats actually look better( though not 7 million better.) I was pointing out that Miranda has been successful in Seattle, and his stats are improving( Miley's are not.) Miranda's BABIP is a little low but not enough to explain why he is doing well.
I've listened to several of his starts and not only are the results good, but the radio guys from each team ( I switch between the announcers)have all commented on how good he looks.
I was asking if you had any idea why.
And the trade was a bad one, for the simple reason that Miranda wasn't given a chance to have this success, however fleeting it may be, with Baltimore.