Posted on February 1, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Houston Astros have been a little slow to fill the vacancies in their starting rotation this winter. But they finally pulled the trigger on a move Thursday, agreeing to terms with lefty Wade Miley. The Astros and Miley have agreed to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million, with incentives that could make the contract worth up to $5 million.
For the 32-year old Miley, the Astros will be his fifth team since the start of the 2015 season. He’s bounced around quite a bit since his early days with the Diamondbacks. Sustained success has also been difficult for him to find over the past few years. In fact, a year ago, Miley had to settle for a minor league contract with the Brewers after being unable to secure a guaranteed contract with a big league club.
Of course, Miley made the most of his opportunity in Milwaukee last season. After spending the first month of the season in the minors, Miley earned a call up to the Brewers. Unfortunately, he suffered an oblique strain in his second start with the Brewers, an injury that kept him on the shelf for two months. However, when he returned from the DL, Miley quickly became Milwaukee’s most consistent starter. In 16 starts, he posted a 2.57 ERA. The Brewers then trusted him to make four postseason starts. While he only lasted 14.2 innings over those four starts, he allowed just two runs.
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Clearly, Miley still has something left in the tank, even if his age says he’s past his prime. However, it’s worth questioning whether Miley can replicate his success from last season. With a career ERA of 4.26, Miley’s track record says last year was a bit of an aberration. He may have looked the part of a frontline starter in 2018, but many will be skeptical that he’ll be able to do it again in 2019.
The good news for Miley is that he’ll be all but guaranteed a spot in Houston’s rotation. Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, and Lance McCullers Jr. will all be missing in 2019 after playing important roles in Houston’s rotation last year. Keuchel is still available on the open market. But Morton has signed elsewhere and McCullers will miss the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. That gives Miley some big shoes to fill.
Despite the loss of Keuchel, Morton, and McCullers, the Astros will still have Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole leading their rotation. Few teams boast a duo at the top of their rotation on the same level as those two. That will leave Miley and Collin McHugh to fill out the middle of the rotation. Barring another signing, the final spot in the rotation will be decided by a spring competition involving Brad Peacock, Josh James, Framber Valdez, and Brady Rodgers.
Signing Miley is in no way a game-changer for a team with aspirations to win the World Series. However, it was a signing they had to make. The Astros couldn’t afford to enter spring training with two empty spots in their rotation. If Wiley can repeat his success from last season, he’ll be a bargain at $5 million. But the Astros shouldn’t necessarily be expecting that. That being said, if Miley can be a viable back-end starter, the Astros will surely take it.