After a 5-2 loss in Game 5 of the NLCS, the Milwaukee Brewers find themselves down 3-2 in the series and one loss away from elimination at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Brew Crew is back at Miller Park for Game 6 on Friday night. Lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu will toe the rubber for the Dodgers. On the other side, the Brewers will counter with a man who’s become an unlikely hero for them: Wade Miley.
With Their Season on the Line, the Brewers Turn to Wade Miley
From Non-Roster Invitee to Key Starter
Miley joined the Brewers on a minor-league deal in February. He was coming off of two horrific seasons that saw him post unsightly ERAs of 5.37 and 5.61. Miley impressed in spring training, but then suffered a groin injury. He did not make his season debut until May 2, allowing just one run across six innings. Unfortunately, Miley injured himself once again in his second start, departing with just one out recorded after suffering an oblique strain.
Miley would not pitch again until July 12. As a result of his injuries, he made just 16 regular-season starts this year. However, those 16 starts wound up being excellent ones. While he did out-pitch some of his peripheral numbers, Miley generated results that were nothing short of excellent. He posted a 2.57 ERA and induced ground balls at a 52.8% rate. Those are both career-best marks. Miley didn’t miss many bats (5.58 K/9), but he excelled at keeping the ball on the ground and letting the Brewers’ infield defense work. He did a fantastic job of keeping the ball in the park, allowing just three home runs in his 80.2 innings (0.33 HR/9). Miley did not allow more than three earned runs in any of his 16 starts and allowed two runs or less in 13 of them.
The biggest reason for Miley’s success has been the implementation of a new cut fastball. Miley threw the cutter a whopping 42.2% of the time (per Brooks Baseball), making it his most oft-used pitch. The cutter has induced grounders at a 54.14% rate, and opponents slugged a paltry .293 against it. Per FanGraphs, Miley’s cutter has been worth 9.8 runs above average, making it one of the most valuable cutters in all of baseball.
Miley has Carried his Success to the Postseason
Pitching in the postseason has not phased Miley. He worked four and two-thirds scoreless innings against the Rockies in Game 3 of the NLDS, sending the Brewers to a series sweep. In Game 2 of the NLCS, Miley was dominant. He fired five and two-thirds scoreless frames with just two hits allowed.
Miley was announced as the starter for Game 5, but he was, in fact, a decoy deployed by manager Craig Counsell. After Miley walked the leadoff hitter, the real starter, Brandon Woodruff, entered and threw five and a third innings. The move lined Miley up to start Game 6, which is now an absolute must-win for the Brewers to stay alive.
It’s been an incredible transformation for Wade Miley. He was arguably the worst starter in baseball for two seasons, but he has since reinvented himself to be a highly effective starter for a playoff team. Miley has gotten the job done nearly every time he’s taken the mound for the Brewers. Now, when his team needs him most, Miley will look to deliver once again.
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