The first-place (still!!!) Baltimore Orioles just traded for left-handed starting pitcher Wade Miley. All they had to give up was a 27-year-old Cuban prospect named Ariel Miranda who likely never figured into the team’s long-term plans. It’s a low-risk move from a team with very little going for them in terms of trade chips. With one of the league’s worst rotations, the Orioles had to do something, and Miley is…something.
Miley started his career pitching very well for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and made the All-Star team in 2012, his rookie year, before finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting. He has not been nearly as good over the past three seasons, but does still have an FIP below 4.00 for his career. In his first season with the Seattle Mariners, Miley has a career-high home-run rate of 1.4 HR/9, but is using his sinker at the lowest rate of his career, less than 20 percent. Hitters are also batting .354 against it with a .633 slugging percentage.
In his best season with Arizona, Miley used the sinker close to 40 percent of the time and limited hitters to a more respectable .422 slugging percentage. As he moves to the American League East with its fearsome lineups, Miley will need to get that pitch working again. With a staff that has struggled to make mechanical adjustments (and multiple pitchers who leave the team and rediscover success), the chance that the new member of the Orioles will right himself is unlikely. Some sort of Miley and Vance Worley piggyback arrangement could be worth considering for Buck Showalter.
If he is able to come into Baltimore and eat innings with a 4.50 ERA, Miley will be an upgrade of sorts for the Orioles. Whose spot he will take in the rotation is very unclear. Yovani Gallardo had another miserable, wild, inefficient start against the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend, but is under contract for another year. Vance Worley has been much more consistent than Gallardo, but this winter’s Duquette Bargain Bin Special will probably get to continue finding himself in the rotation. Miley-for-Worley is not so much an upgrade but a swap of two similar parts. Regardless, this should cement the assumption that Ubaldo Jimenez has thrown his final pitch as a starting pitcher for the Orioles in 2016.
The Orioles certainly would have liked to do more at the deadline, and there is a chance they still might, as reports indicate that they continue to be active. A left-handed reliever like Boone Logan would be very nice, as the ‘pen currently lacks a lefty specialist. Logan could be paired with Mychal Givens, who has struggled against left-handed hitters all year. Jeremy Jefress or Will Smith of the Milwaukee Brewers could be targeted. An outfield bat is unlikely, and probably not needed at this point. Melvin Upton would have been acquired, but only in an effort to dump Jimenez. The asking price is still far too high for a rental like Jeremy Hellickson of Philadelphia, although the Orioles should probably pull the trigger on a deal for him if the Phillies will take any other top-five prospect not named Chance Sisco.
The Orioles really do not have much to offer in terms of prospects. Outside of Sisco, none of their prospects should move the needle too much at this time of year. That’s a consequence of Duquette and Co. chipping away gradually at the farm system to acquire fringe players like Travis Snider and Gerardo Parra (and the continued disinterest in signing international free agents). Continued failure to develop starting pitching has the Orioles in this position, even with a payroll that obliterates previous team records. At this point, the best course of action for the team may be to stand as pat as possible this year and give the farm system a chance to begin resetting itself.
As the Orioles attempt to hold onto a playoff position for the next two months, Wade Miley will likely have to serve as their “big” deadline upgrade. There’s not much else for the team to do but hope that their new southpaw can log six reasonably effective innings per start, Kevin Gausman can figure out how to get right-handed hitters out this year, and the offense can break out of its funk. Things have worked out so far, but as the recent five-game losing streak showed, the Orioles’ 2016 season is a house of cards that can be brought down at any time by poor starting pitching or streaky, free-swinging power hitters. It’s been a fun ride so far, and the Orioles are going to have to dance with the girl that brought them if they hope to have another taste of October baseball this fall.