Red Sox retrospective: Was the Miley trade a mistake?


Just a day after Jon Lester signed a 6 year/$155M deal with the Cubs, signifying that the Red Sox had missed their chance to grab a true ace on the free agent market, the Red Sox opened a new can of worms with their rotation. Rather than pursuing high-priced star pitchers through the trade and free agent market, the Red Sox made a series of low-profile moves to secure solid ground ball pitchers. The first of those moves came when the Red Sox acquired Wade Miley from the Arizona Diamondbacks, sending young pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster in return.

Three weeks into the season, it’s already worth wondering whether the Red Sox made a mistake.

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Miley has been atrocious in his four starts with the Red Sox, with his worst start coming yesterday when he allowed 7 runs in just 2.1 innings against the Orioles. His ERA sits at an alarming 8.62, with his peripheral stats not supporting a whole lot of improvement. Thus far, Miley has walked 6.3 batters per nine innings while only striking out 5.7 and has appeared to lose the command that has been his calling card thus far, as he has a career 2.8 BB/9.

Meanwhile, though Webster has largely fallen off the map, De La Rosa has been solid in Arizona. Though his ERA is an unspectacular 4.68, he has excellent peripherals of 9.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 and his 3.73 FIP suggests improvement is coming. Plus, while Miley is 28 years old and will cost $19.25M over the next three seasons, De La Rosa is still only 26 and has one more year of team control than Miley.

Granted, both starters have made just four starts and there will, of course, be some regression to the mean. Miley’s ERA will probably not sit in the mid-8.00’s throughout the season (and if it does, he won’t make it through the season). However, Miley will need some major corrections to even return to last season’s form, which was still a disappointing season in the eyes of most as Miley posted a career-worst 4.34 ERA.

It appears, from a fan’s perspective, that Miley has lost his confidence. He no longer seems to feel comfortable throwing strikes at nearly the same rate that he has in the past and, even in the strike zone, he seems to have lost his command as he has allowed a .274 opponents’ batting average despite a BABIP (.308) which is well within his career norms.

Both players have several years before they hit free agency, so it’s unfair to judge the trade based off four starts in the span of three weeks. However, the early results don’t look good for the Red Sox. While De La Rosa has been hit by some bad luck despite excellent peripherals, Miley has been terrible while posting similarly terrible peripherals. If Miley is unable to totally alter his performance, this trade could go down as a major failure on the part of the Red Sox and, with such a weak rotation this season, that could prove to be very costly.