The Milwaukee Brewers got incredible value from Wade Miley in 2018 based on his contract and expectations. Should he be brought back for 2019?
If anyone had told you when the Milwaukee Brewers signed Wade Miley back in spring training that he would post a 2.57 ERA and be one of the Crew’s most trusted starters in the postseason, would you have believed them? Probably not.
But that was the case in 2018, and it was a career year for the 31 year old Miley. He posted the best ERA of his career and looked as good as he did in his rookie year back in 2012. Behind the emergence of his cut-fastball, Miley was one of the best buy-lows in free agency in all of baseball.
Now he’s a free agent again. Should the Milwaukee Brewers look to bring him back for next season?
The Case For Re-Signing Wade Miley
Brewers pitching coach Derek Johnson is known as a guru/wizard/genius when it comes to fixing pitchers. When Miley was brought in, Johnson placed a focus on using that cut-fastball a lot more often than Miley had thrown it in the past.
The plan seemed to work as Miley was the most impressive he’s ever looked in the big leagues. Perhaps this cut fastball is for real and can continue to be effective for the next few seasons. If it is, the Brewers just found a diamond in the rough that small market, low-payroll teams need to have in order to sustain success.
Miley is a ground-ball pitcher, which plays well in Miller Park. For the Brewers rotation to be the most effective, they need a solid group of ground-ball pitchers that don’t put the ball in the air very often, as baseball carries well in the hitter-friendly confines of Miller Park. Last season, 52.8% of the balls Miley allowed in play were on the ground.
The Case Against Re-Signing Wade Miley
This isn’t sustainable. Miley’s xFIP of 4.30 indicates his 2.57 ERA is just an anomaly and his ERA should be much higher than it actually was. His opponents had a .269 BAbip this year, which is well below his career average and the league average.
Miley also had a career-low 5.2% HR/FB ratio. His career average sits at 12.2%. With a full season in Miller Park for half his starts, that number is bound to increase.
Look at Chase Anderson for comparison. In 2017, Anderson had a career low 7.1% HR/FB ratio, several points below his career average. In 2018, Anderson jumped back to a 12.2% HR/FB ratio after signing his long-term extension. Anderson was left off both playoff rosters and may not have a rotation spot next season. You’ll see similar results if Miley returns to Milwaukee.
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Also, Wade Miley had a chance to show his stuff on the national stage during the postseason. Other teams around the league took notice of Miley and how successful he was this year. Now that he’s an unrestricted free agent, teams will be getting ready to throw big contract offers Miley’s way.
With the prices for starting pitchers being the way they are, Miley could easily command an AAV of $10+MM for multiple years on the open market. The Milwaukee Brewers should not be competing with those kinds of offers, especially given their current payroll situation.
Let’s not forget how much time Wade Miley missed this season, either. He got injured at the end of spring training and missed the first month of the season. Then he made one good start and was injured in his second start in early May. He missed another two months with that oblique injury. Miley made only 16 regular season starts because of these injuries.
What’s the Verdict?
The Milwaukee Brewers absolutely should not re-sign Wade Miley this off-season. All of the statistics indicate he’ll regress in 2019 and is not as good of a pitcher as this season might make you think. After having gone through a similar situation with Chase Anderson, the Brewers should let Miley go.
There’s just too many risks associated with bringing him back. it looks like the Brewers caught lightning in a bottle this year with Miley. We can appreciate what he did for the team, but a long-term partnership is not in the best interest of the club.
Other teams will look at Miley as a pitcher worth giving eight figures to because they’re banking on one good season and the continued success of his cut-fastball.
Entering his age-32 season, Miley will look to cash in on a successful season and has no reason to give the Brewers a hometown discount. It’s time to let him go in free agency.
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Every team is always looking for starting pitching and it’s a competitive market. When the market turns its attention towards Miley, the price range will quickly jump out of the Brewers comfort zone.