Tap-In Question: Nine solid starts into 2017, are you now a Wade Miley believer? - BaltimoreBaseball.com
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Tap-In Question: Nine solid starts into 2017, are you now a Wade Miley believer?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

It seems like I’m always starting these Tap Room entries by waxing poetic about the beauties of baseball. Maybe it’s because I do think it’s the best sport in the universe.

There are just so many nuances, so many variables that make baseball difficult to predict, which is why we watch sports in the first place. There’s a drama, obviously, that goes with the unknown and unexpected.

And that brings us to today’s Tap Room subject: Orioles left-hander Wade Miley. You remember Miley, the guy the Orioles acquired from the Seattle Mariners last July who was absolutely awful during most of his first two months with the club.

Only two of his initial nine Orioles starts were considered “quality,” and in five he allowed four earned runs or more. It was so bad that I argued in September for his demotion to the bullpen during the stretch run.

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Miley, however, had two good starts to end 2016, providing a little bit of hope for 2017.

But, really, just a little bit. That 6.17 ERA in 11 starts left a serious stench like when we don’t clean the bar at closing time.

Give credit when it is due, however. Miley has been a different pitcher in 2017. In spurts, he’s been dominating. Other times, he’s been dangerously close to a 2016-esque implosion.

Yet, after Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays – Miley lasted seven innings, allowed three runs (none earned) and was tagged for the loss because he gave up a first-inning homer following a Jonathan Schoop error – the lefty’s ERA sits at 2.59 in nine starts.

He currently has the seventh best ERA among qualifiers in the American League, striking out 49 batters and allowing only 42 hits through 48 2/3 innings (last year for the Orioles he allowed 70 hits in 54 innings).

This year, Miley’s problem has been walks – he’s issued a league-high 28 – and that has pushed his WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) to an unimpressive 1.44, the highest among the Top 20 ERA qualifiers in the AL.

Still, he’s limited damage, kept the Orioles in every start and has been a huge reason the club has been competitive this season.

What’s been the difference?

The guess is he’s simply more confident and comfortable in his new – newish – surroundings now. Part of that comfortability occurred last September when he talked with Scott McGregor, the Orioles’ pitching rehab coordinator and one of the greatest left-handed starters in team history. McGregor didn’t have a magic wand.

McGregor talked with him about mechanics and approach and simply was a great sounding board for Miley, reminding him it was a game and that Miley was only one guy, that he didn’t have to carry the weight of a team on his shoulders.

In retrospect, maybe the internal pressure of being traded to a contender worked against Miley, who has never pitched in the postseason. Maybe he was partially a victim of bad luck as an Oriole – as our Paul Folkemer wrote earlier this month in his advanced stats piece, Miley’s Fielding Independent Pitching mark was 3.79 in 2016 with the Orioles, more than two runs lower than his ERA, suggesting that bad luck did damage his overall performance.

Whatever the reason, Miley’s results have bene much better. He’s allowed four runs or more once this year.

And so many people have asked me whether I think Miley is for real, whether this is the guy you can expect for the remainder of 2017. Could he be a version of the 2013 Miley, who posted a 3.55 ERA in more than 200 innings for the Arizona Diamondbacks?

My answer is that I think he is better than he showed last year, but, because of the high walk total and the myriad times he’s had to wiggle away from a big inning, he’s not as good as the current 2017 numbers indicate.

If he’s somewhere in between, though, that’s someone with a mid-4.00 ERA — perfectly fine for a fifth starter, which is what Miley was supposed to be this March.

He’s been more, of course. He’s consistently been the Orioles’ second-best starter.

And that leads me back to my question today.

How do you view Wade Miley going forward this year? Do you believe that he can keep rising to the occasion and continue to give the Orioles a chance every fifth day?

Are you concerned that the high walk total is going to start biting him back (he only walked one Sunday)?

Is the jury still out for you?

Tap-In Question: Nine starts into 2017, are you now a Wade Miley believer?

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 22, 2017 at 7:34 am

    I for one, am firmly in his camp. Does he need to tighten up on the walks? Well, it’s like chicken soup…couldn’t hurt. But the statistic that I’ve noticed, and may be more telling is how much lower his HR rate it. Last year he was giving up a tater roughly every 6 innings. This year, that rate has dropped to about 1 in 8 innings. This may have something to do with his ability to “limit the damage”.

    I’ve also thought many times this year, that he doesn’t get the benefit of a lot of calls on his big sweeping curveballs from the umpires. (are we missing Wieters here?)

    So Yes Dan, I”m in his camp. Who doesn’t love a wily old left handed vet throwing up slop? (although he still has some giddy up on his number one when needed) I feel we can count on him for the rest of the year as a solid #2½ or #3 starter. He’s certainly better than a 5.

    • Eldersburg Enigma

      May 22, 2017 at 8:12 am

      I think the absence of Wieters has helped Miley, and likely hurt Gausman. I think Miley will win 12 or 13 games with an ERA in the 4.30-4.50 neighborhood, numbers that any of us would have signed up for 45 days ago. Let’s see if the entire staff can post better numbers now that they’re getting used to a better signal caller.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 22, 2017 at 8:57 am

      That’s the thing Boog. It’s not all slop. He can rev it up — and he gets a lot of swings and misses. And I’m with ya EE. If he wins 12 with a 4.3 ERA, that’s beyond gravy.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        May 22, 2017 at 9:02 am

        But isn’t it amazing how much better a signal caller Wieters has become throwing to Strasburg, Scherzer and the likes … but then when the bullpen enters the game he reverts to not knowing WHAT to call for? Puhleeeeze, enough of Wieters not being able to call a game.

        • Bancells Moustache

          May 22, 2017 at 11:31 am

          I brought up the Wieters thing the other day as it relates to Gausman. It seems like Gausman has become Kevbaldo because the Umps aren’t giving him the black this year, forcing him to overcorrect and serve up meat. I haven’t charted this or anything, just seems to be the case through the eyes of your friendly neighborhood jeans salesman. Which makes me wonder if using a different primary catcher has any bearing on his issues this year. There are a lot of invisible things a catcher does receiving the ball, rapport with the umpires etc., that effect the strike zone. I’m not saying Castillo is to blame for Gausman’s failings this year, because at the end of the day Kevbaldo is the one who gets paid to get batters out, but there could be something there.

  2. Creatively_19

    May 22, 2017 at 8:34 am

    It’s hard for me to “believe” in Miley due to how many times he’s failed to get through the 6th inning this season. I would like to believe in him, but I want more consistency. Before yesterday, he hadn’t gotten past 5 innings since the end of April, so lets see him do that a couple more times in a row. Otherwise, he’s just another starter on a team full of guys who aren’t playing up to their potential.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 22, 2017 at 8:58 am

      The pitch count elevation will remain a concern. He mentions it after every game. Trying to be efficient, it just hasn’t happened consistently.

  3. Greg wak

    May 22, 2017 at 10:56 am

    I still feel like I can’t quite trust him, but less and less with each start. But I feel that way about all O’s starters except for Bundy

    • Dan Connolly

      May 22, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      Understood. Tho I trust Tillman. He’s earned that even through injuries. He’ll battle and be representative most nights.

  4. Bancells Moustache

    May 22, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Do I believe Wade Miley can give them a chance every 5th day? Absolutely. Mr. Miley is a living testament to the human element of sports performance. He was absolute hot garbage last year. But if you think about it, if you were suddenly uprooted from your employer and moved to an office 3000 miles away and told to deliver the goods immediately, most of you would probably experience some challenges as well. I’m not saying Miley has settled into Maryland and will now be an Old Bay seasoned Steve Carlton, but he’s going to be a dependable starter going forward.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 22, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      Good perspective. It really can be disruptive. Especially when that employer singles you out as someone who is gonna take the business to an important level. Lots of pressure. Drink chip.

  5. ZantiGM

    May 22, 2017 at 11:45 am

    i predicted 12 wins a under 4.50 ERA for Miley, so he will need a strong rest of the year, if he can cut down his walks he may do it

    • Dan Connolly

      May 22, 2017 at 12:52 pm

      I woulda said that was best-case scenario. Looks attainable now — especially ERA.

  6. HOF19

    May 22, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Ask me in about 5 more weeks…But without a doubt I am pulling for him hard !

    • Dan Connolly

      May 23, 2017 at 1:27 am

      Sure we can revisit this one. A long season.

  7. Schwarzstop

    May 22, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Can I have a drink before I answer? While not a “believer” do not count me as a “non-believer” either. He’s doing a good job until he’s not, like all the other peeps on the pitching staff. But let’s keep rolling with him because there ain’t nothing better!

    • Dan Connolly

      May 23, 2017 at 1:28 am

      Beer on its way. And you’re right. Especially from the left side.

  8. Liss

    June 1, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    o;

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