Pitchers and catchers for the Arizona Diamondbacks reported to Spring Training today. What better way to honor that news than to talk about one of the mainstays of the D’backs’ rotation over the past two seasons. After appearing in eight games in 2011, Wade Miley began his first full Major League season in style by finishing second in the 2012 National League Rookie of the Year race by going 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA. While some may look at his 10-10, 3.55 ERA mark in 2013 and conclude it was a setback, I am not one of them.
How 2013 went: Like most pitchers who have found success in their rookie seasons, Miley struggled at times during his sophomore campaign. Particularly troublesome were the high walk numbers we saw in several starts. For instance, even though he had allowed no runs against the Colorado Rockies at home on April 27th, he was removed from the game after 4 1/3 innings because there were seven walks issued. In a July 31st outing outing against the Tampa Bay Rays, Miley walked five but allowed only two hits and no runs in 6 1/3 innings in a 7-0 victory. For the year, he pitched a total of 202 innings and allowed 66 walks. However, this is exactly why I think the lefty actually made significant progress last year. Even when he was clearly without his best stuff, Miley either managed to keep his team in games or even win them by battling and getting the right man out at the right time. As the season wore on, he continued to improve. For instance, after the aforementioned Rays game, Miley walked two or more batters in a start only once. In his final 16 starts, he pitched at least six innings in 13 of them. It shows me that the rest of the league caught up to him early and then he had to make adjustments. Some young pitchers never are able to do that. It is clear Miley has.
Outlook for 2014: If someone were to ask me to sum up Wade Miley in one word, it would be bulldog. There is nothing flashy about him. There is not one pitch in his arsenal that makes you say, “Ahh”. What he does is battle, make the pitches that count, and gives the D’backs a chance to win in almost every start. He went from 194 2/3 innings in 2012 to 202 in 2013. Would it stun you if that number went to 220 this season? Miley is developing into the type of pitcher that you can pencil in for 30-35 starts and 200-220 innings every season. Year three is when everyone will realize this. Will he be a 20 game winner? Maybe once or twice over the course of his career. Not in 2014. However, it is not unreasonable to expect another 16 win season and with some luck get to 18. The ERA will be somewhere around 3.40. Expect Miley to be a solid and consistent member of the D’back rotation for years to come.