03 October 2017

Wade Miley Couldn't Finish Off Hitters in 2017

The Orioles finished the 2017 season with a record of 75-87, the team’s first losing season since 2011. The end of the season was almost spectacularly disappointing, as the Orioles went 7-21 over the month of September (and October). While the bad month finally torpedoed what little chances the team had of making the playoffs, losing 19 of the last 23 games probably doesn’t leave fans with to much hope for the 2018 season, at least in the first few days following the end of the season. And while the 2017 season was extremely frustrating at times (especially on the pitching side of the ball), there are definitely some positives that can be taken into next year. As our own Jon Shepherd tweeted following yesterday’s game…
And it’s true! The 2018 season looks like it’s going to be extremely exciting! Unfortunately, this post won’t be looking at the positives of the 2017 season or what to look forward to in the 2018 season. I’m sure someone will do that post either here or somewhere else in the coming days (and if no one does, I promise I will write one in two weeks).

No, this post brings us back to the worst part of the 2017 season, the starting pitching. Now that the season is finished, I feel like it’s a good time to make a confession: I don’t watch many Orioles baseball games. For that matter, I don’t watch many other baseball games either. I wish I could watch more, but other life responsibilities (mainly kids) take up a lot of my free time these days. Fortunately, I am able to keep up with what is going on from the local beat writers, twitter, other Camden Depot bloggers, and the many excellent Orioles blogs out there on the internet.

Despite not getting to sit down and watch too many games, I do catch snippets here and there. And I happened to catch Wade Miley’s 5th inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. Like much of Wade Miley’s 2017 season, it didn’t go well. He faced two batters, giving up a solo home run to Evan Longoria on an 0-2 fastball, and giving up a double to Logan Morrison on…an 0-2 fastball.

Wade Miley vs Evan Longoria

Wade Miley vs Logan Morrison

I thought it odd (or at least unusual) that Miley not only gave up back to back hits on 0-2 pitches, but that those hits were smoked. I decided to look into it a little further, and as a result, I found that it appeared that Miley had a lot of trouble finishing off hitters in 2017.

Other than his Zone% and F-Strike%, Miley’s Plate Discipline numbers at Fangraphs don’t look all that different than his career levels. Miley’s never been a strikeout pitcher, so the fact that he had an 8.1% swinging strike rate (and that it was the 9th lowest in all of baseball for pitchers with a minimum of 150 IP) didn’t strike me as all that surprising. However, generally when a pitcher gets to an 0-2 count, the odds shift greatly in his favor. While Miley has been a better pitcher when he gets the count to 0-2 (as he should), he’s been well worse than the league average in 2017.

Wade Miley in 2017 in 0-2 counts vs the league average

I don’t how necessary it is, but let’s take a look at some slightly different numbers for the same situation.

Wade Miley in 2017 in 0-2 counts vs the league average

That’s really not good. It’s also the worst Miley has ever done in those situations throughout his career. Is some of it luck based? Possibly. The sample size is obviously pretty small, and Miley’s BABIP in those situations is decidedly on the wrong side of the luck scale. At the same time, Miley hasn’t been doing himself any favors either. The figure below shows the location of his pitches against right-handed batters and left-handed batters in 0-2 counts.

As you can see, there are some pitches that catch way too much of the plate. At the same time, Miley is all over the place. And that’s really been one of the main reasons for Miley’s struggles in the 2017 season overall. It’s difficult to be effective if you’re walking nearly 13% of the batters you face. Major League hitters are really good. And if you don’t have the stuff to get swinging strikes, you need to do a good job locating your pitches, even when you’re ahead in the count 0-2. Miley did not locate his pitches well in 2017*, and that hurt him even if he had the batter at a huge advantage.

I realize that this post isn’t probably what most people would want to read about the first day after the end of a disappointing season, and if you’ve made it this far, then congratulations. Since it appears that Wade Miley will not be back in Baltimore for the 2018 season, so you can probably just file this post under either the “depressing, yet somewhat interesting” or “who cares, the season is over” folder. Regardless of Miley’s status with the team next year (or lack thereof), the Orioles can begin to look forward to the 2018 season, which (I’ll repeat), is going to be exciting.

*To his credit, Miley located the fastball almost exactly where Welington Castillo asked for it in the Longoria plate appearance.


Unknown said...

Torpedowed, like the Tom Petty reference!

Unknown said...