Milwaukee Brewers Reunite with Pitcher Wade Miley

As MLB free agency moves along, the Milwaukee Brewers, at last, made a free agency signing. Wednesday night, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers reached an agreement with southpaw pitcher Wade Miley on a one-year, $4.5 million deal. Miley can make up to $6 million with incentives.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale then provided details on what those incentives look like for Miley.

The 2024 mutual option of $10 million will almost certainly not be used, so the $1 million buyout was included in the initial $4.5 million reporting.

Miley, 36, is a familiar face to Brewers fans, as he played a key role during Milwaukee’s 2018 season when they made the NLCS. Miley posted a 2.57 ERA in 2018, including a 1.27 ERA in 14.2 playoff innings. Since then, Miley has played for the Astros, Reds, and most recently, the Cubs. Last year, Miley was limited but effective, as he posted a 3.17 ERA in 37 innings. Miley dealt with numerous injuries, as he had three separate stints on the injured list.

Miley didn’t play enough in 2022 to really get a sense of what kind of pitcher he is, so instead, let’s look at his 2021 season, where he pitched 163 innings and posted a 3.37 ERA. Plain and simple, he is one of the slowest pitchers in the league. In 2021, his average fastball speed was 86.6 mph, which was in the 2nd percentile for pitchers, and that number will not be increasing as the years go by. As a result, Miley’s strikeout rate was in the 15th percentile of pitchers, and his whiff rate was in the 31st percentile.

However, Miley was still able to be extremely effective by limiting walks and hard contact. Miley’s walk rate was in the 67th percentile, and his average exit velocity was in the 95th percentile. He is able to generate such soft contact due to still making batters chase out of the strike zone. Miley had a chase rate in the 77th percentile. This causes Miley to generate a ton of ground balls, with 50.8% of the balls put in play against Miley being ground balls (the league average in 2021 was 42.7%).

Of course, 2021 is now two years ago, and Miley is now 36. Injuries are a major concern, but outside of injuries, Miley has been a really solid pitcher for the past half-decade. If Miley can be a solid fifth or sixth starter and provide solid innings due to inevitable injuries to the rotation, then this could end up being a low-risk, high-reward signing by Matt Arnold and the Brewers.