Pitching Repertoire of Wade Miley

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Many Boston Red Sox fans have not seen the pitching repertoire of Wade Miley, acquired in an offseason trade from Arizona. Ian York crunched the data and shows what Miley throws, and where.

Wade Miley arrives having thrown 201 1/3 innings for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014 and is an even more extreme groundball pitcher than Rick Porcello, ranking 17th among qualified starters in the majors with a GB% of 51.1% in 2014. Unlike Porcello, however, he does walk batters, ranking 76th of 87 qualified starters with a 3.35 BB/9. Although he saw far more right- than left-handed batters in 2014, the lefty did not have a pronounced split against either.

First, a bit of a data oddity: According to PITCHf/x, Miley threw two changeups to left-handed batters in 2014. They are not shown here, because it looked silly to have a single giant circle in the center of the plot. For the record, one was a ball, and the other was a called strike. 

From data with a reliable sample size, his most overwhelmingly used pitches were the four- and two-seam fastball, with a slider occasionally mixed in and a change used almost exclusively against RHB (as always, these charts are from the viewpoint of the catcher):

(FF-Four-seam Fastball, FT-Two-seam Fastball, SL-Slider, CH-Changeup)

Unlike Porcello, Miley takes advantage of the bottom of the strike zone with both his four-seam and, especially, with his two-seam fastball, which is almost entirely thrown to the bottom third of the plate (inside to LHB and outside to RHB):

 

As with Porcello, the pitches start off looking quite similar, but end up in very different locations. Note, though, the difference in strike percentage between Miley and Porcello; the latter was much more likely to throw strikes with either one of his fastballs than was Miley.  What is more, batters chase Miley’s pitches a lot: His slider, two-seam fastball, and change all have good-size bubbles below the strike zone ‒ indicating that they were either swung on or called strikes.

The plots here show that Miley’s strikes were fairly effective, with pitches in most of the sub-zones being average or better for total bases per pitch ‒ compared to Porcello, there is more blue in these plots. On the other hand, some of Miley’s effectiveness seems to be built on pitches either outside the zone, or barely inside it, making him more prone to walking batters who do not chase. If he can limit his walks and continue to draw double plays, Miley can be a very effective pitcher.

Ian York visualizes baseball in a new, beautiful way, examining umpire strike zones, the repertoire of pitchers and the value of catcher framing.

Follow Ian on twitter @iayork. Follow us on twitter at @SOSHBaseball.

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