Age: November 13, 1986 (32)
Traditional Stats: 5-2, 2.57 ERA, 1.215 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 5.6 K/9
Advanced Stats: 1.5 bWAR, 1.5 fWAR, 159 ERA+, 3.59 FIP
After posting four straight years with a below league average ERA+ and with his having an ERA of 5.37 and above for three years running, Miley would have to settle for a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers heading into the 2018 season. With Miley pitching well in Triple-A and the Brewers needing starting pitching, he was called up in May.
After two starts, Miley headed to the disabled list with a strained oblique. He would return in July, and he would arguably be the Brewers best starting pitcher. One of the reasons for his success was how the Brewers utilized him. He pitched past the fifth inning just six times all season. He did not face the lineup a fourth time all season. Ultimately, he was the beneficiary of the Brewers great bullpen.
What is surprising is Miley was able to repeat that success into the postseason. In his four postseason starts, Miley was 0-0 with a 1.23 ERA. Notably, one of those starts lasted just one batter as Craig Counsell pulled a fast one on the Dodgers pulling Miley after just one batter to try to take advantage of what was now a heavy right-handed hitting lineup.
Overall, Miley was not just the beneficiary of some creativity of his manager, he was also the beneficiary of the Brewers being the second best defensive team in the majors. This was not just a factor in Miley yielding a .269 BABIP, but also his stranding 75.9 percent of base runners. Both were career bests for Miley. His ability to repeat that success may be dubious considering Miley had a career worst strikeout rate of 5.6 batters per nine.
According to Brooks Baseball, all of Miley’s pitches generate a high number of ground balls. This makes Miley all the more dependent upon a team’s defense. If you are a team with a strong infield defense, Miley is well worth a flyer. If you don’t, you are better looking for a solution elsewhere.
Last year, Miley signed a minor league deal with the Brewers with an invitation to Spring Training. If Miley made the major league roster, which he did eventually, he was due $2.5 million with incentives predicated upon innings pitched. Even with Miley’s success last year, it is difficult to imagine he will get more than a minor league deal similar to what he received last year.
If a team feels compelled to lock him up over the other starting pitching options remaining, it is difficult to see him getting more than $3 million. After all, similarly situated pitchers like Matt Moore, Adam Wainwright, and Drew Pomeranz all signed for a one year deal worth $2.5 million or less.
The Mets lack starting pitching depth. Their current fifth starter, Jason Vargas, will be 36 next year, and he is coming off a season with a 64 ERA+ and a 5.02 FIP. After him, Hector Santiago is likely the next man up with his 6.12 ERA as a starter last year, and that carries the assumption he will not be a reliever. Breaking it down, outside the Mets top four starters, everyone else has a 5.00+ ERA as a starter in 2018.
If the Mets are able to bring Miley aboard on a minor league deal, they need to do it. It provides depth and insurance against Vargas faltering or one of their better starters suffering an injury. If the team is pushed to give him a major league deal worth $3 million or less, they should do it and let him or Vargas win the fifth starter job.