Adding the veteran left-hander makes it easier to handle if Keuchel departs
Miley should have Astros fans smiling
The Astros signed Wade Miley this week to a one year, $4.5 million dollar contract and no one really seemed to be very excited. After all he doesn't throw 95 mph and hasn't won a Cy Young award, but if you dig a little deeper you might find that he could be the perfect replacement for Dallas Keuchel.
Miley, like Keuchel, is lefthanded and has been an all-star previously. More importantly, he has playoff experience just like Dallas and has performed well when on the big stage. He is coming off arguably his best year as a pro as he was 5-2 with the Brewers with a 2.57 ERA. He had four starts in last year's playoff run for Milwaukee and had a stellar 1.23 ERA combined for the Divisional series and the NLCS.
He has never really pitched for a dominant team over the course of his eight-year career, yet his numbers have been steady and he has managed to stay relatively injury free. The opportunity to play for the Astros gives him a chance to play for a contender that has a potent offense, an above average defense and a pitching coach that has proven to be a major factor in resurrecting pitchers' careers. If all goes as planned, he could be the next in a line of veteran pitchers who have found success after coming to H-town.
Making subtle changes to a pitcher' s delivery, mechanics and approach to the craft have been a staple of Brent Strom's role as pitching coach for the Astros. He has been a driving force behind Keuchel's career and Dallas has always been quick to give him credit, particularly when he was interviewed after Houston won the World Series. Strom was singled out and credited with using his lower half more and pinpointing his release point. The two of them spent hours and hours watching videotape and scouring previous starts to find keys to his success and cures for his failures.
Aside from Keuchel, Strom has found success working with Charlie Morton, Gerritt Cole, and Colin McHugh, helping them add spin rate and velocity to their pitches while making them more effective on the mound. Pairing Miley with Strom can do nothing but help the veteran pitcher carry over his success from last season and build on it as he attempts to help the Astros get to another World Series title.
Maybe the deciding factor between bringing in a free agent like Miley and letting a fan favorite like Keuchel walk is the finances. Agent Scott Boras has been trying to formulate a contract in the neighborhood of 5 years and $100 million dollars for his client and that seems to be far too expensive for Jeff Luhnow and owner Jim Crane. With Justin Verlander joining Cole as free agents at the end of the 2019 season, there doesn't seem to be enough money to go around for the third starter in AJ Hinch's rotation.
Miley's contract is very team friendly and it doesn't hinder the franchise going forward when they have some tough negotiations ahead with their top two aces. Saving over $15 million dollars on this year's rotation also allows the team flexibility this season if another free agent bat is targeted or the always-in-demand bullpen arm is considered.
As good as Keuchel has been and for as long as he has been here, it seems as if the time has come to let him find a home for the next chapter in his career that will pay him what he wants and believes he deserves. Meanwhile, the Astros can insert Miley as his replacement with hopes that he will solidify a rotation that lost Morton to free agency and Lance McCullers Jr. to injury while expecting Kuechel to be signing elsewhere soon. If he does, you should wish him well and thank him for helping to bring a title to Houston. If for some crazy reason he is willing to consider giving the Astros a hometown discount on a short term deal, then the rotation could be that much better. Either way, Jeff Luhnow and the 'Stros have all their bases covered.