Stats & Info: Wade Miley

Kernels: Catch them if you can

June, 2, 2013
Our weekly statistical review of the interesting and unusual in the major leagues.

Theme of the Week: A Good & Wacky Week for Catchers
There were a pair of three-homer games last Wednesday afternoon—one was by Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro.

Navarro became just the fourth catcher in team history to do that, joining George Mitterwald (1974), Clyde McCullough (1942), and Ned Williamson (1884).

Navarro also came just shy of the elusive "home run cycle", hitting a solo shot in the 2nd, a two-run shot in the 4th, and a three-run homer in the 7th. The last player to get those three-fourths of the cycle, in order, was Andrew McCutchen on August 1, 2009.

And no Cubs player-- at any position-- had hit three homers, scored four times, and driven in six runs since Dave Kingman did it in one of the highest-scoring game in major-league history, a 23-22 loss to Philadelphia on May 17, 1979.

Meanwhile, Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy recorded a 5-for-5 with two homers as the Brewers beat the Phillies 8-5.

He is just the second catcher in Brewers history with a five-hit game. Charlie Moore knocked out five singles in a win over the Red Sox on July 11, 1980. Lucroy homered again Saturday, doubling his season total to six and marking the first time in his career he's homered in back-to-back games.

On Sunday, with bases loaded, Lucroy hit a fly ball down the left-field line in Philadelphia that bounced off the railing above the wall. It was initially called a grand slam, reviewed, and then overturned into a triple-- marking just the second grand slam ever taken off the board by replay. Johnny Damon of the Rays had the other one against Seattle on August 21, 2011.

Lastly, the Twins won their Saturday game over the Mariners on another unusual walk-off: A triple by catcher Ryan Doumit

Walk-off triples are among the rarer plays because the rule requires the batter to actually run out his hit for three bases, and by that point the celebratory pile at home plate has usually commenced. There were just three walk-off triples last season, and Doumit's was the first of the 2013 campaign. There haven't been more than three in any season since 1993, and a few seasons haven't had any.

Let’s tie it all back together with this nugget: The last catcher with a walk-off triple before Doumit was none other than … Dioner Navarro last season.

About that other three-homer game …
Ryan Zimmerman joined Navarro on the three-homer brigade on Wednesday.

Zimmerman ranks last alphabetically by last name on the list of players to ever hit three homers in a game. He bumped the White Sox' Gus Zernial, who went deep three times in a 10-6 loss to the same franchise (then the St. Louis Browns) on the final day of the 1950 season.

How Not To Pitch
There were a couple examples of the sort of pitching history you probably don’t want to make.

Matt Magill was called upon to make a last-minute start when Hyun-Jin Ryu was scratched Sunday with a foot contusion. It didn't go well. Magill made it through six innings but issued nine walks and allowed four homers along the way.

The combination of nine walks and four homers?

According to Elias, that was a first in major-league history.

Arizona's Wade Miley hit the jackpot on Friday. Sort of. Miley pitched seven innings, allowed seven hits, seven runs, and recorded seven strikeouts. Granted, he lost the game, but at he made some good statistical company along the way.

Only one other pitcher in the Divisional Era (1969) has rolled all those sevens in a single game: Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers, in a loss to the Phillies on May 16, 1984.

In Fernando's outing, only two of the runs turned out to be earned. So if we change that seven to earned runs, we turn up just one other pitcher in the last 95 years: Billy Pierce of the White Sox, who completed the run by also issuing seven walks to the Senators on May 3, 1956.

Tribe no longer Verlander's kryptonite

July, 26, 2012

Getty ImagesJustin Verlander is one of three pitchers going for 12 wins today.
Three pitchers – A.J. Burnett, Wade Miley and Justin Verlander – are going for their 12th win today. Let’s take a look at how each pitcher got to this point.

Justin Verlander
Verlander is probably the least surprising name on this list. Since his rookie season in 2006, his 118 wins are the most among all major league pitchers.

Last year Verlander led the majors with 24 wins, the most by an AL pitcher since Bob Welch had 27 in 1990. Verlander is nearly on the same pace as last year, when he had 12 wins through his first 20 starts of the season.

But it might be difficult for Verlander to repeat that performance. After losing in his 21st start last year, he went undefeated the rest of 2011, going 12-0 in his final 13 starts en route to the Cy Young and MVP awards.

Tonight Verlander faces a Cleveland Indians team that had given him problems early in his career, which he seems to have solved recently. After going 4-10 with a 6.70 ERA against the Indians from 2005 to '08, he is 9-2 with a 2.84 ERA since then.

Wade Miley
At this point last season, Miley was in Reno, Nev., pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks' Triple-A squad. Miley made the big league rotation out of spring training this year and so far has been a legitimate NL Rookie of the Year candidate.

He leads all NL rookies in nearly every pitching stat and has allowed more than four runs just once in 19 starts.

Miley relies heavily on his fastball (73 percent of pitches) but also has a nasty slider that is among the best in the majors.

He consistently is able to locate the pitch down and away from hitters, generating swings on nearly half of those pitches thrown out of the zone.

A.J. Burnett
Burnett might be the most surprising name on this list. He was 21-26 from 2010 to '11 with the New York Yankees, during which he became the first pitcher in Yankees history to pitch at least 150 innings and post an ERA above 5.00 in back-to-back seasons.

After a trade to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the offseason, Burnett has relied more on his defense this season, and the transition has paid off. His ground ball rate of 57.4 percent is the fourth highest in the majors and his ground ball BABIP of .187 ranks eighth-lowest among NL starters.

Despite pitching to contact more this year, Burnett still remains a power pitcher with a knee-buckling curveball. Only Adam Wainwright has more strikeouts on a curve than Burnett’s 53, and no pitcher has generated more swings-and-misses with his hook than the 99 that Burnett has this season.

Floyd's curveball made him no-hit threat

April, 29, 2012
It took a great pitching performance from Chicago White Sox starter Gavin Floyd to end the Boston Red Sox six-game winning streak.

Sunday marked the fourth time in Floyd’s career that he carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning, but he’s yet to finish one off. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Floyd’s four such bids are the third-most among active pitchers.

How did Floyd pitch so well?

Our pitch-performance data showed that he got five of his nine strikeouts on pitches that were out of the strike zone. He finished off all 15 hitters on whom he got a two-strike count.

Floyd’s curveball was working in those two-strike counts. He threw 11 curveballs in two-strike situations and got five strikeouts with them.

The White Sox were bidding to become the first team with two regular-season no-hitters in the same season since the 1973 Angels, who got two from Nolan Ryan. The 2010 Phillies are the last team with two no-hitters, if you combine regular season and postseason (both by Roy Halladay).

Floyd is 7-0 with a 2.75 ERA in eight career starts against the Red Sox. He’s the first pitcher to win his first seven career decisions against the Red Sox since former Minnesota Twins right-hander Kevin Tapani.

Other notable performances from Sunday included:

The day’s best pitchers
Johan Santana threw six scoreless innings in his Coors Field debut, in the New York Mets wild win over the Colorado Rockies. Santana has now pitched 22 scoreless innings against the Rockies, which (via Elias) is the longest streak by any pitcher to start his career.

CC Sabathia beat the Tigers to remain undefeated this season. The Tigers right-handed hitters were 1-for-21 against him. Sabathia got five strikeouts with his slider. He’s had at least five with that pitch in all five of his starts this season.

Speaking of sliders, Chicago Cubs starter Matt Garza got 10 outs with his, and notched six strikeouts with the pitch, in a 5-1 win over the Phillies.

Also chiming in with impressive efforts were Arizona Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley, who is 6-1 with a 2.47 ERA in his last eight starts dating back to last season after beating the Diamondbacks, and Cleveland Indians starter Derek Lowe, who beat the Los Angels of Anaheim with an efficient effort- he threw single-digit pitch totals in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings.

The day’s best hitter
Rightfielder Jay Bruce homered for the fourth straight game, the longest streak by a Cincinnati Reds player since Adam Dunn homered in five straight games in May, 2008.
Jay Bruce
The streaky Bruce has had another hot week, hitting .476 with an OPS of 1.685 since Tuesday. His last three home runs have come on pitches over the outer-third of the plate. Bruce has 40 home runs on outer-third pitches since 2009, sixth-most in the majors in that span.