Assessing Trades at the quarter pole: Wade Miley

Miley  2

When Jerry Dipoto allowed Hisashi Iwakuma get away to the Dodgers, I lost my mind. Temporarily. Sort of.  My wife and students might disagree with the temporary part. In any case, I wrote an incendiary post, with an even more incendiary title. The response from readers wasn’t good.

The next day, Dipoto traded for Red Sox lefty Wade Miley.  I was incensed.  Because Iwakuma wasn’t signed, the M’s were taking on a lefty with questionable results at Fenway, and in the process sending away arguably the organization’s best relief pitcher in Carson Smith as well as useful Roenis Elias, representing the organization’s pitching depth.  I did not have a good couple of days-in print or otherwise.

Of course, Trader Jerry knew best, and when the Dodgers wavered in their commitment to ‘Kuma, the M’s were there to scoop him up. A nice ending to a complicated story.

So how has that worked out for everybody?  Let’s start with the Red Sox first. Let me be as honest as I can-the Red Sox are one of my least favorite organizations.  I used to be a fan, when they were making it to the World Series, but not quite getting over the top.  I cherish my Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr and Carl Yastrzemski baseball cards, and have a book on the Impossible Dream season signed by Jim Lonborg. But since Red Sox fans morphed into the insufferable community of whining and entitlement calling itself Red Sox Nation, travel the country insulting fans in their home ballparks, they could fall into Dante’s Inferno and I’d be fine with it. The tragedies of Pesky’s Snooze and the Buckner Bobble are replaced by the mythos of Schilling’s Bloody Sock, and we’re all supposed to buy into this universal love for all things Red Sox. With all apologies to my much loved Virginia family, and their predilection for New England sports, the Red Sox are right there with the Yankees, Archer-Daniels-Midland, and Donald Trump.

So let’s see, who, if anyone won this deal. The Red Sox are having a great year.  They are tangling with the Orioles for the top spot in the American League East. They can flat out hit. They lead the American league in almost every hitting category.  Boston has a team OPS of .843.  Baltimore is in second place nearly 60 points behind.  They’ve scored the most runs in the American League and lead the AL in run differential at +63.

But their pitching is pretty middling.  Carson Smith was seen as a guy who could help Boston put together a lock-down bullpen as the Royals and Yankees assembled.  They saw him as a live arm, with closer potential, young and controllable. Unfortunately things haven’t worked out too well for Smith or the Red Sox.  Envisioning Smith as a set-up guy for closer Craig Kimbrel, Carson has thrown exactly 2.2 innings for the Red Sox. Smith was identified with a strained flexor tendon in his  right forearm March 20th and began the season on the DL. He returned to duty in early May and made only three appearances before heading back out on the DL with the unresolved forearm problem. At the quarter pole, Carson Smith has been about as useful as Curt Schilling’s bloody sock.

Roenis Elias began the season in Pawtucket, appeared in six games, mostly as a starter. When Red Sox starter Joe Kelly went down with injury, Elias was recalled and pitched 1.2 innings on April 23.  He allowed three runs on four hits and two walks, and was optioned back to Pawtucket.

So just to wrap up the Boston portion of this deal, the Sox have a pitcher who is broken, and another who hasn’t been very good.  They’ve gotten 4.1 major league innings out of the two of them put together.

Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro came over to the Mariners in the trade.  Aro, a reliever, with a brief appearance in Boston in 2015, is in Tacoma.  He is pitching quite well in relief for the Rainiers.  In 13 games Aro has allowed four earned runs on 16 hits, 7 walks and a couple of homers.  His ERA is 1.71 and his WHIP is 1.095.  Those numbers indicate Aro is probably the pitcher the M’s thought they were getting. In the hitter-happy PCL, not bad and maybe a guy who could eventually help out the big club.

But the real prize is Miley. He will start his ninth game against the Reds this morning.  He is a fun pitcher to watch because he is such a quick worker and nothing seems to fluster him. He also fulfills an important role because he’s the only left-handed starter in the rotation after James Paxton’s flame-out in spring training.

It has not been all smooth sailing on the good ship Mariner for the Louisiana native. Miley was pretty well pounded in his first three starts, against Texas (twice) and Cleveland. But since April 24th, he has gradually reduced his ERA from 8.04 to 4.32. Miley has thrown two shutouts, including the team’s only  complete game against the Royals on April 30th.

Miley typically pitches into the sixth inning, doesn’t walk a lot of guys or give up a lot of hits, though it seems as though they may come in bunches.  Hence the feeling that Wade is cruising out there and all the sudden he falls into a deep dark pit of trouble.  No flares, no warning, something bad just happens.  Servais generally limits his pitches to 95-100, hence he doesn’t typically get really deep into games. In his last three games, Miley threw six innings of good ball and was done.  It would be nice to see him use his pitches a little more efficiently and get a bit deeper into games. Miley has also given up eight homers, which is a bunch.  Three homers in his 6-4 win against Tampa Bay, all of the solo variety.

At the quarter pole Miley’s stats look pretty pedestrian at 50.0 IP, ERA of 4.32, WHIP of 1.200, BABIP of .274, and xFIP of 4.28.  Over his last five starts, he’s 4-0 with a 2.62 ERA. It’s likely Miley’s numbers continue to improve as the season continues and he heats up with the weather. Miley, thus far, has earned .3 WAR, a number I would expect to grow as the season continues.

Despite the fact I detest Miley’s beard, I think he’s been the player the Mariners hoped they were getting when Dipoto made this trade. He’s a reliable starter every fifth day.  From a financial point of view, given the value of pitching, he’s a great pickup.  The Mariners owe him $6 million for 2016, $9 million in 2017 and hold a $12 million option for 2018.  Given the value of one WAR at $8 million, that’s a pretty good deal.



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