The Milwaukee Brewers are 11-5 to start the 2023 season, and the performance of their pitching staff has been outstanding thus far. They have a team ERA of 2.94 which is the third best in the league. Additionally, their four team shutouts are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the most league-wide.
They've gotten stellar outings from their three-headed monster along with quality starts from others at the back of the rotation. But perhaps the biggest surprise thus far has been the excellent production the Crew has gotten out of Wade Miley.
Milwaukee signed the southpaw to a one-year contract back on January 4th. While the move didn't feel overly significant at the time of the signing, it looks like it could be the best acquisition of the offseason for the Brewers.
The 36 year-old lefty Wade Miley carries a 1.50 ERA through his first three starts back with the Brewers after a dominant performance versus a star-studded San Diego Padres lineup.
Wade Miley looked outstanding versus the San Diego Padres on Sunday afternoon. In what was a pitchers duel all throughout the game, Miley delivered a rock-solid performance to lead the Brewers to their fourth team shutout and 11th win on the season.
Miley finished the day going seven shutout innings only allowing four hits. He didn't walk a single batter and finished the game with eight strikeouts. The last time Miley struck out at least eight batters in a game was September 7th, 2021. His strikeout total was impressive considering it's not what he has been known for historically.
Miley is primarily a ground-ball pitcher who doesn't bring eye-popping velocity to the table. However, he has demonstrated incredible command of his pitches and a good approach on the mound keeping hitters uncomfortable in the batters box. This can be illustrated when looking at his excellent CSW%, or Called Strike + Whiff Rate, from Sunday's matchup with San Diego.
Miley had a CSW Rate of 36% in Sunday's game versus the Padres. This statistic sums the number of called strikes and the number of whiffs a pitcher generated and divides the sum by the total number of pitches thrown. So, 36 percent of Miley's 89 pitches resulted in a called strike or a whiff.
For reference, the league average CSW% in 2023 thus far is 27.8%. Additionally, the general rule of thumb is a CSW% between 35-40% is considered excellent. Therefore, Miley's CSW% of 36% in Sundays game is particularly impressive for a pitcher who does not specialize in generating strikeouts or swings-and-misses.
Miley had a game plan on the mound heading into his matchup with the Padres, and he executed that game plan to perfection. Part of the execution stems from the impressive synergy he has developed with catcher William Contreras. After the game, Miley spoke to just how much Contreras has contributed to the successful start in 2023.
Wade Miley has done an excellent job of limiting baserunners and pitching to soft contact with an impressive display of command this season.
It is a small sample size just three starts into the 2023 season, but Miley has a WHIP of 0.94 and just three walks in his 18 innings pitched. He has successfully limited free-passes thus far and has shown excellent command of his pitches.
Even if it is early in the season, Miley posting a career low walk rate of 4.2% is very encouraging. His pitch mix allows him to keep batters uncomfortable at the plate. His fastball-changeup combination has given him success at limiting hard contact in 2023.
His average exit velocity sits at an impressive 85.7 MPH. He also has a hard hit rate of just 25.9% which is in the 89th percentile according to Baseball Savant. Not only are his quality of contact numbers impressive, but his batted ball data is equally as encouraging.
Miley is continuing to produce ground balls at an efficient rate while also significantly decreasing his line drive rate. So far in 2023, Miley has a line drive rate of 11.1% which is substantially lower than his career average of 25.3%. That is a development that is worth monitoring as the season progresses. If Miley found a way to reduce the number of line drives given up while still maintaining a strong ground ball rate, he could deliver a very successful season for the Crew.
It is hard to draw definitive conclusions after just three starts. However, there is a recipe for season-long success for Miley if he continues to induce soft contact. The Brewers are one of the top defensive teams in the MLB to start the season, so he has a great amount of defensive talent around him to help continue this success.
A few weeks back, I wrote an article discussing my intrigue with Wade Miley heading into 2023. I thought he could bring some real value to the back of the Brewers' rotation if he were to remain healthy. With the season fully underway, it appears he is healthy and able to contribute in a significant way for the Brewers' starting rotation this season.