Wade Miley is one of those pitchers who just gets outs. The Arizona Diamondbacks lefthander doesn’t wow or dazzle, but that isn’t what matters. What does is results, and he got plenty of those last year in his rookie season. The 26-year-old left-hander won 16 games with a 3.33 ERA and 3.15 FIP.
How did he do it? Not with overpowering stuff. His primary pitch — which he threw over 70 percent of the time — was a fastball that averaged 91.1 mph. He struck out just 6.66 batters per nine innings. What he did is pound the strike zone and keep the ball in the yard. His walk rate was a sterling 1.71 and home run rate a Lilliputian 0.65.
Can he replicate those results this season? Only time will tell, but he’s off to a good start. In his first outing he allowed one run over six innings and got the win against the Brewers. He makes his second start this afternoon against the Pirates.
Miley talked about the secrets to his success, including his better-than-you-think-it-is stuff, during spring training.
David Laurila: How do you get guys out?
Wade Miley: I trust my defense. There are seven guys behind me, and my catcher, so I go right after hitters. I challenge them with my best stuff and hope for the best.
I think that’s a pretty standard way to go about it. It’s what a lot of pitchers do — they attack hitters. They throw strikes and try not to give away free passes. When hitters put the ball in play, there are a bunch of guys out there to help you. You rely on your teammates.
DL: How good is your stuff?
WM: You tell me. I don’t really have an answer to that.
DL: Coming up through the system, you were overshadowed by pitchers who were said to have better stuff.
WM: Call it good, call it average, whatever. I guess if you’re getting guys out, it’s maybe better than some people think. But I don’t care how good it is as long as I’m getting outs. That’s all I’m shooting for. Whether I strike them out or they hit ground balls or fly balls, it doesn’t matter.
DL: Do you pay attention to your ground ball and fly ball rates?
WM: Not really, although Chase is obviously more of a hitters’ park. You’d rather see the ball on the ground, but fly balls are outs as well as ground balls. As long as it stays in the yard.
DL: For someone who doesn’t throw especially hard, you throw a high percentage of fastballs.
WM: It would be good to be able to throw 95 mph, but there are guys… Greg Maddux was pretty successful throwing 86. I don’t know why velocity is such a big deal anymore. I just throw it in the location — the vicinity — where I want it and try to keep it down. Then I hope for the best.
DL: Are you big on video and reports?
WM: I don’t spend a lot of time in the video room. I mostly go in there to see how I’m doing mechanically. If something gets out of whack, you have to look at things. I’m not much for [looking at] the opposing hitters. We go over our scouting report and have a plan to go after guys.
You also have to make adjustments throughout the game. That’s something Miggy [Miguel Montero] is good at. He’s great at calling games and recognizing what’s going on. As a pitcher, I put a lot of trust in him.
DL: How would you describe yourself mechanically?
WM: I throw across my body. That’s pretty much been with me my whole career — I’ve always thrown across my body. They tried to straighten me out a couple of times, but I’m more comfortable that way. So far so good.
DL: How do you utilize your off-speed stuff?
WM: I try to throw it when I need it. If I could go nine innings throwing just fastballs, I would. But obviously you can’t. The hitters here are too good. I’ll use sliders as a put-away pitch and I’m working on a curveball, flipping it for strikes. I also have a changeup, which I can throw any time. It’s kind of an equalizer.
DL: How do you grip your changeup?
WM: I do a couple of things with it. I throw a circle change when I’m just trying to throw it for a strike. I’ll also get off the ball a little bit and throw a… I wouldn’t call it a split change, but it’s kind of similar to a split change. That’s when I want a swing-and-miss.
DL: Is your circle a two- or four-seam?
WM; It’s a two-seam, because I throw mostly two-seam fastballs and want to keep the same rotation. That way hitters will see the same thing when it comes out.
DL: Why are you adding a curveball?
WM: Why not? These guys have reports as well, so I have to get better if I want to keep having success. I’ve actually always thrown a curveball, I just want to throw it more. It’s not really a 12-to-6, but rather more of a 10-to-4. It’s kind of slurvy — kind of a get-me-over — but it’s a pitch I feel comfortable throwing for strikes.
DL; What are your goals for the season?
WM: I’m going to go out and pitch. When it’s my turn, I’m going to do the best I can to give my team a chance to win. That’s about it. Hopefully I’ll be healthy all year and helping us win games.