Astros starter Wade Miley looks to have turned a corner after some rough outings.
Wade Miley has had a very successful season, and the Houston Astros will achieve 100 wins for the third straight year. Miley deserves some credit for the team’s success, as despite his hiccup in the three starts leading up to his most recent outing, he has been one of the best offseason acquisitions across the MLB.
With Miley not getting out of the first inning in his previous two starts on Sept. 5 and 10, and not escaping the third inning in the start prior to that, you would think the ship was sinking and could not be saved. If you follow social media at all, you would think he went into early retirement or was DFA’d by the Astros organization.
The thing I love most about Miley is he has never expressed panic or seemed desperate to get things back in order. The culture of this ball club and pitching staff as well Miley’s demeanor allow him to weather the storms and not go into panic mode.
In the bottom half of the first inning on Sunday in Kansas City, Miley surrendered a triple to Adalberto Mondesi and then a single to Jorge Soler. With only one out, the world began to wonder if this would be another one-and-done situation.
Obviously it wasn’t, and Miley didn’t give up another hit until the sixth inning. Suddenly the sky wasn’t falling, Miley wasn’t done and the stellar starting pitcher not named Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander or Zack Greinke showed why he’s been so successful in 2019.
When you see struggles in this age of advanced stats and sabermetrics, one would think maybe Miley has lost velocity, maybe his RPM’s are down, or some other technical measurement that has become commonplace in almost every professional baseball club. When you look at the velocity on his cutter, it was in this last game right at 86.5, per FanGraphs, which is lowest it’s been all year. The velocity on his fastball right at 90.3 which is in range. So what was this blip?
In a postgame interview, Miley said:
"“I feel like Oakland, Chicago, those teams, they kinda led up to all the stuff that happened. They were kinda not swinging at the cutter in, and I’m sure Kansas City looked at those games and they’d kind of seen the approach, so really I wanted to establish the inner half with the four-seamer, and I think that helped me get some swings on the cutter.”"
Miley doesn’t take his cues or any requests from the naysayers; he simply grinds and tries hard to figure out what he needs to fix. He did this and pitched a shutout after the first inning. He needs to perform well in the final stretch not only to build his confidence but to continue to contribute to the club, as the Astros are in a neck and neck race with the Yankees for the best record in baseball.
Will Miley be a starter in the playoffs?
The burning question of the day is what many are wondering in Astros nation. When he’s on, Miley provides an opportunity to give the main starters the needed rest to compete at the highest level. Regardless of his performance I would say it’s highly probable that he ends up in the bullpen in the five-game series of the ALDS. But what if the Astros clinch a berth to the ALCS?
Miley sure has done plenty to be considered, so if the Astros go with a four-man rotation in a seven-game series, he could factor in the mix. With three elite starters in Verlander, Cole and Greinke, they may want to insert a fourth starter.
That all depends on a few factors, such as how Miley matches up with the opponent. They also have to consider giving other starters enough rest and if a particular game is a clinching or elimination game. Depending on the situation, they could pitch Verlander on short rest.
Miley would not be a bad choice to come out of the bullpen, but he hasn’t had that role on this team in 2019. Regardless of how AJ Hinch chooses to use him, he will be ready to go. He has embraced these coaches and he trusts the process. Knowing that he was one game away from a World Series berth in 2018, you know he wants another shot at winning his first title.