The Houston Astros added another quality arm to their rotation by signing Wade Miley, formerly of the Milwaukee Brewers. Miley signed a 1-year, $4.5 million contract with no option. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Miley has passed his physical.
The signing of Miley is the kind of under-the-radar signings the Astros have become known for. Miley joins an Astros pitching staff that includes Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Collin McHugh. All three of those starters are eligible for free agency after this season. By adding an additional arm, it shows that the Astros are not standing pat going into 2019. Although the club is still “in the hunt” to acquire the services of their own free agent Dallas Keuchel, Miley gives the Astros an insurance policy should Keuchel sign elsewhere.
Miley rebooted his career with the Milwaukee Brewers. After struggling with a groin injury during the first half of the season, Miley posted a 5-2 record after the All-Star break, and went on to post a 1.23 ERA in four postseason starts. One reason for that was his development of a cut fastball that the Brewers front office convinced him to throw 42% of the time. Batters could only manage a .194 batting average against the pitch and, although it wasn’t a strikeout pitch, Miley used it to induce weak contact, which is reminiscent of what the Astros got from Keuchel.
In 2018, the Houston Astros discovered how hard it is to repeat as World Series champions. Although the Astros brought back virtually the entire roster that won the 2017 World Series, they failed to make it past the ALCS, falling in five games to the Boston Red Sox. This offseason the Astros have been taking no chances. Although they lost Marwin Gonzalez and Martin Maldonado to free agency, they replenished those gaps by signing free agent outfielder Michael Brantley (Cleveland Indians) and Robinson Chirinos (Texas Rangers).
The Astros also continue to have a strong pipeline that will include RHP Josh James in either the rotation or the bullpen and OF Kyle Tucker. James has reached 102 mph with his fastball and mixes in an 88 mph slider and 92 mph changeup that are sure to bring strikeouts to a pitching staff that already delivered a bunch of them. Tucker struggled a bit in limited action with Houston last year (he had just 72 plate appearances), but he produced eye-popping stats in 100 games for Triple-A Fresno last year. The Astros have time to work Tucker in slowly, but he provides the possibility of giving the team an extra bat should they need one.