After last night's exciting 7-6 win over the Washington Nationals, the Miami Marlins have to be feeling a little more confident about their chances to compete down the stretch. Since we know this series was supposed to determine the team's plan for the trade deadline coming this Thursday, it is important to consider the Marlins' options going into the deadline. Two names that were mentioned in yesterday's rumors were the Oakland Athletics' Tommy Milone and the Arizona Diamondbacks' Wade Miley.
How do those two names fit on the Miami Marlins? Let's discuss them in quick profiles.
Milone was a starter for the Oakland A's, but he was also struggling during the 2014 campaign. The 27-year-old's strikeout rate had fallen and his walk rate had risen to career worsts, and his issues with home runs continued. When the A's picked up Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs, they needed to make room in their rotation, and they chose to send Milone down to the minors. He was not happy and requested a trade.
Milone is probably not good enough to be out-and-out requesting trades. He owns a career 3.84 ERA that is just about league average thanks to Oakland's giant stadium. His FIP is worse, indicating that he may have pitched over his head for those first few years in the bigs. But he still has been close to league average and decently sturdy in terms of health, and Marlins Park can help solve a lot of problems with home runs from fly ball pitchers. Milone would benefit from Miami's talented defensive outfield and deep dimensions. And he is under team control through 2017, which is what Miami is looking for.
At the same time, Milone's aversion to the strike zone (47 percent zone percentage for his career) works against his contact style and the Marlins' preferred style of pitcher. His walk rate has not climbed too high, but you can imagine Milone struggling in ways akin to Jacob Turner as a low-strikeout guy trying to paint the corners. This may allow the Fish to acquire him for not much in the way of a trade, but the Marlins are not a great match for the A's needs. The team has no real middle infield prospects to offer Oakland, and the A's need a second baseman at the major league level.
The trade fit is decent enough for Miami, but the best part about a potential Oakland deal is the low amount of resources it might require.
Miley is a significantly better name to chase. The 27-year-old is having his worst season in Arizona, but it is barely any different than his career trajectory. Over the last year and a half, he has essentially been a league-average pitcher, and the uglier ERA belies better peripherals. Miley has upped his strikeout rate, is getting more whiffs than before, and is seemingly taking a different approach from his breakout rookie season. His zone rate has fallen, but it is providing some decent peripheral results; the problem is that his home run rate is skyrocketing in Chase Field.
Like Milone, that should fall once he reaches Marlins Park. The difference between the two is that Miley has decent ground ball tendencies that should help naturally keep his home run count down, while Milone leans towards being a fly ball pitcher. Miley has a career 48 percent ground ball rate, and that has trended upwards the last two years with his different approach. That combination of more grounders and a home run problem has worked decently with Henderson Alvarez in moving to Marlins Park, so it should help the more whiff-happy Miley.
Miley is also under control through 2017, so the Fish would be getting close to a league-average starter at arbitration prices, and the underlying numbers might suggest potential for improvement. The problem is that he'd also likely cost more in terms of prospects for the Marlins, and the Diamondbacks may also not be a great fit in terms of Miami's pitching depth. It would be a better move for the Marlins to pursue Miley, but the question of "how" without giving up significant future assets is a difficult one.