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American League

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Acquired LHP Wade Miley from Seattle Mariners in exchange for LHP Ariel Miranda. [7/31]

To borrow an analogy from BP2016, Miley is the Honda Civic of starting pitchers—solid, reliable, not too flashy. On the Orioles, he’s a tricked out Maserati. Baltimore has somehow built a first-place team with Chris Tillman as its de facto ace and 56 starts from Ubaldo Jimenez, Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright, and (suddenly broken) Yovani Gallardo. Even Kevin Gausman, who offers promise in age and pedigree, has allowed 19 home runs in just over 100 innings. Overall, the Orioles have a 4.22 team ERA despite stellar bullpen work from Zach Britton and Brad Brach (0.89 ERA in 100 2/3 innings), and their 4.82 DRA from starters ranks 27th in the league—ahead of the Brewers, Angels, and Reds.

Miley fills multiples purposes on the Orioles. One, he might just be their best starter. On a normal playoff contender, Miley fits better as a mid-to-backend rotation guy, but PECOTA’s rest-of-season projection tabs him for a 4.03 ERA from here out, better than Gausman (4.21) and Tillman (4.45). Consider recent DRAs and cFIPS from Baltimore’s “big three:”

Year

Miley (Inn., cFIP, DRA)

Gausman (Inn., cFIP, DRA)

Tillman (Inn., cFIP, DRA)

2014

201.3, 96, 3.75

113.3, 106, 4.56

207.3, 110, 4.33

2015

193.7, 97, 3.68

112.3, 90, 3.51

173.0, 110, 4.72

2016

112.0, 108, 4.94

103.3, 89, 3.59

132.3, 105, 4.02

Miley’s also left-handed, which qualifies him as the only southpaw in the Orioles’ rotation. It’s not clear what kind of impact having at least one lefty in the rotation has, but it would seem, at least, that it can’t hurt—particularly with lefty-heavy divisional lineups from Boston and New York (Miley ought to skip Toronto, when possible). Giving a team a different look in the middle of a three- or four-game series could force unwanted lineup changes or, perhaps, provide a sort of hidden knuckleball effect, throwing a different look at hitters otherwise used to seeing the right-handed arm slot.

Further, while Miley’s only averaged six innings per start since 2015, he eats plenty of frames because he doesn’t miss his turn in the rotation. Barring his abbreviated rookie season, he’s made at least 29 starts in every year of his career. The Orioles don’t need Miley to turn into a real ace, anyway. It’s unlikely to happen, for one—although he’s only 29, Miley’s pretty squarely categorized himself as a league-average type. And with their potent offense and lights-out bullpen, same-old-Miley gives the Orioles a fighting chance to compete with the Blue Jays and Red Sox for the division, and a better shot of advancing if they reach the playoffs. —Dustin Palmateer

Fantasy Impact

Wade Miley

Not a ton changes all that dramatically with this move for Miley, and you can make a decent case for a marginal, sum-of-its-parts upgrade here in roto formats. He goes from the team that has scored the 12th-most runs in baseball to the team that ranks ninth. His new divisional opponents have scored a combined 1,907 runs, his old ones 1,878.

Miley has always given up a bunch of fly balls to right-handed hitters, and when he does they’ve left the yard at a roughly league-average rate in his career. That latter rate, however, has spiked into a well above-average territory this year. That seems counterintuitive to the conventional wisdom, which holds that Safeco is a pitcher’s paradise. But that really hasn’t been the case at all this year: both Safeco and Camden play at similarly above-average park factors for right-handed power. The move to Baltimore is a lateral one in that regard, and the supporting defense behind him on those flyballs that don’t leave the yard doesn’t change much either: the Mariners are bad at catching those (23rd in defensive efficiency on flyballs) and the Orioles are bad, too (24th).

Miley does stand to see a bump in defensive quality for his bread-and-butter groundballs. His usually sturdy rate has been down this year, and his recent run of success has been fueled by ramping up his four-seam usage. But when he does burn a worm or three he’ll have the 10th-best infield defense converting them into outs, as opposed to the below-average unit in Seattle. He’ll also see improvement in the quality of his receivers. Chris Ianetta and Steve Clevenger have caught 17 of his 20 starts this year, and they rate among the worst framers—Ianetta is the worst—in the majors this year. Caleb Joseph is excellent, and while Matt Wieters has been generally below average throughout his career, he still makes for a decent upgrade. He’ll see a nice boost in the quality of bullpen support, as well; the Orioles’ bullpen has the fourth-lowest ERA and eighth-best FIP, outpacing Seattle comfortably in both categories.

The net grades out to a small positive here, but at the end of the day, Wade Miley is Wade Miley. Continue to treat him as such, though do note for head-to-head purposes the move is a downgrade come playoff time, when series against the Red Sox and Blue Jays dot his final two weeks of the season. —Wilson Karaman

Ubaldo Jimenez

One has to assume that it will be Jimenez and his sterling silver ERA over his past seven turns who will pull up a seat in the bullpen going forward. Technically that’s bad news, since middlemen of that kind of ilk are worthless in 99.9 percent of fantasy leagues. The real victims here are the poor souls currently populating the HACKING MASS leaderboard. —Wilson Karaman

SEATTLE MARINERS
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Acquired LHP Ariel Miranda from Baltimore Orioles in exchange for LHP Wade Miley. [7/31]

Miranda, who defected from Cuba in 2015, was not a big-name signing after he agreed to a minor-league deal with Baltimore last May. The fastball is an above-average offering that generally sits 90-92, with the occasional tick up to 94. His best pitch is his splitter, which has hard downward bite and depth and comes from the same arm speed as the fastball. He'll also show a fringe-average slider with decent tilt, but it's easily the worst of his three offerings, and he doesn't do a great job of locating it. He does do an adequate job of getting ahead in the count, and while the command lags behind the control, it should be good enough to start. He's a good athlete, and he does a solid job of repeating his delivery and actions.

What you see is what you get with Miranda, and what you see is a fifth starter swing-man, maybe a fourth starter if the slider takes a jump up. —Christopher Crawford

Fantasy Impact

Ariel Miranda

He goes from being off the radar pretty much entirely in Baltimore’s system to having a legitimate shot at a second-half rotation cameo. The 27-year-old Cuban is a kitchen-sink southpaw, so he’s already checking a lot of boxes for me. He’ll work in the low-90’s with a couple fastball variants, and he throws a rare left-handed splitter with plus potential, so that’s cool too. There’s nothing here in the short-term, outside of an addition to the follow list in your AL-only league. He could make for a not-terrible streaming play at some point in the next couple months.—Wilson Karaman